NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
The Nashville Predators may be just a 20-year-old team, but their mascot is ancient.
The team was named after the bones of a saber-toothed tiger found beneath a Nashville building.
But the team isn’t called the Tigers. They’re called the Predators, which encompasses a whole plethora of hungry species.
The Fury and The Ice Tigers are just a couple of names that were being tossed around for the Nashville hockey team in the ‘90s.
“They did all of the research to make sure it was a name that would stick,” said Justin B. Bradford, author of The Making of Smashville.
Bradford said it goes back to the '70s.
“You have it based on something that is actually historically accurate to downtown Nashville and finding the skull of a Smilodon,” said Bradford.
In 1971 during an excavation, the bones of a saber-toothed tiger were discovered.
When the hockey team was born more than 25 years later, picking the tiger for a logo was a no-brainer. Coming up with "The Predators" came later.
“When you're coming up with a name like that you're going to want something that strikes a little fear to an opponent,” Bradford said.
Predators is all-encompassing.
“They are the top of the food chain. They are predators of animals that feed on everything else, so it really doesn't get much higher than the rank of a predator,” said Robert Brown, snake expert at the Aquatic Critter.
Brown works closely with predators every day.
“Snakes use the art of patience and ambush to hunt. They will let their prey come to them,” Brown said.
Many of the snakes he works with will eat just about anything, even a penguin.
Fans are hoping much like these predators devour their prey, the hockey players will do the same Saturday night.
Another fun fact about the Predators: they tend to do better the rowdier the crowd. Bradford said they feed off your energy, especially playing at home.