By Pekka Rinne – Special to NHL.com
Nashville has grown so much, even since I came to the city in 2008. It’s not just the amount of people but the buildings; there is something coming up all the time either downtown or new neighborhoods popping up in new spots.
Even from the time I was there in the Gulch District, there was really nothing going on. Now, that area is really blooming and booming with restaurants and other stuff. The 12 South area and East Nashville is a really trendy spot nowadays, so I just feel like it’s been cool to see that the city has grown so much.
2016 HONDA NHL ALL-STAR GAME
Whenever I have my family and friends in town, obviously Broadway is a must-see. It’s close to Bridgestone Arena, so it’s easy and convenient after the game. Everyone knows about Broadway. You can go there and see a bunch of different bars and all kinds of music. There’s always good music playing and a lot of live bands. It’s a really cool atmosphere, really laid back. People are super friendly.I obviously like good food, so I think in that area, Nashville has a lot of good restaurants to offer. Some of my favorites are around Germantown, the oldest neighborhood in the city and close to downtown. Rolf and Daughters and City House, two places that serve Italian food with a bit of Southern influence, are two of my favorites. In the East Nashville neighborhood, it’s a bit of a different setting, but still there are some great restaurants. Lockeland Table, another Italian place, Eastland Cafe, which serves a lot of seasonal American dishes, and Two Ten Jack, which is a little Japanese spot that serves ramen and other comfort foods.
I really always like trying new restaurants. They’re not fancy, but they’re really cool spots and that’s what I really personally appreciate. Well, that and good food.
Southern hospitality is not an urban legend. I certainly have felt that and noticed the people being super nice. Coming from Finland, it’s been a really easy transition for me and I credit a lot of the people in Nashville. I just feel like they’re super friendly and welcome everybody with open arms.
Nowadays, Nashville is kind of a bigger city. People are coming from different cities, different countries, and everybody becomes a part of the city pretty fast. There’s just kind of a laid-back feeling around the city. It’s kind of a small big city, if that makes any sense. It has that feeling that you’re not in a huge city; you can do your thing and still be comfortable. It’s not a ton of people, and it’s not a ton of traffic. You certainly feel the city is growing and it is fun to explore.
I think Nashville is the perfect city for All-Star Weekend when you think about the location of the rink and everything that we have to offer downtown. I think it’s perfect for the fans and anybody who comes in. I think it’s going to be the best All-Star Game yet, and hopefully people will enjoy it and have fun.
At the end of the day, that’s the biggest thing. It’s a celebration to honor the players, but also it’s an event for the fans and for the League and for the city of Nashville. I’m 100-percent sure it’s going to be a really fun weekend.