The Nashville Predators signed Matt Cullen to a two-year, $7 million contract in the summer of 2013 to add him to the roster and strengthen the depth at the center position. Cullen had spent the previous three seasons with the Minnesota Wild, playing in the same state where he was born.
Since he signed with the Predators back in July, Cullen and his family have been adjusting to life in the Music City. Cullen has three young kids that have had to make the transition with him and his wife, and the adjustment to Nashville has gone very smoothly so far.
“It’s been great, actually,” Cullen said. “We’ve really enjoyed it. I have three boys and they’re in grade school and playing hockey, which has been a pleasant surprise. The kids youth hockey is pretty good here. I’ve been really impressed with it. The kids are in school and all of that has been pretty seamless.”
The youth hockey in Nashville was a mystery for Cullen when he moved to Nashville. He didn’t quite know what to expect. His boys had been playing hockey during his time in Minnesota, and he wanted to make sure that they would be able to do the same in Nashville at a competitive level.
“That was kind of a question mark when we moved for me,”Cullen said. “They were playing hockey in Minnesota, which obviously hockey is a way of life there, so it was something that I was kind of worried about coming here for their sake, how it was going to be. It’s actually been really good. I was very impressed with what they’ve done with youth hockey and how good it is.”
Youth hockey isn’t the only thing that has surprised Cullen about Nashville. Since it’s one of the smallest markets in the NHL, Cullen expected Nashville to have more of a small town-like feel to it. However, that hasn’t totally been the case.
“I guess it’s a little bit more big city than I thought. I really like it. I played in Carolina for four years, so I know the people down here are great people and friendly, and it’s held true. The people have been great. There’s a lot more big city stuff. I don’t even know the right word to describe it, but there’s a lot more going on than I expected,” Cullen said.
Lots of schools around the Nashville area are closed on Monday and Tuesday due to snow, ice and very cold temperatures. Schools in the area had already used some of their “snow days” back in late November and early December, which is something Cullen finds pretty amusing.
“I’ll tell you, the kids have been ‘snowed out of school’ more here than the kids in Minnesota,” Cullen said. “So that tells you something right there.”
Coming from Minnesota, Cullen has obviously experienced more snow in his lifetime than most people who were born and raised in the Nashville area can even begin to fathom. He’s enjoyed watching his kids get out of school for weather they would never get out of school for back in Minnesota.
“It’s funny,” Cullen said. “I got a taste of it in Carolina so I guess I understand how it works. There’s a lot of windy backroads here through the woods so I can understand the safeties of it, but it always kind of cracks me up a little bit. As soon as it dips below 32 degrees, you see people with the big fur jackets and The North Face stuff comes out, which is kind of funny.”