Sitting in front of a wall of jerseys chronicling his hockey career from its start with Nashville Youth Hockey, Blake Geoffrion on Tuesday signed a deal to play for the Nashville Predators — his hometown team.
The fact that Geoffrion signed his first professional hockey contract should come as no surprise to those who know his family history, which includes a long line of hockey greats.
His father Danny Geoffrion played 111 NHL games with Montreal and Winnipeg. His grandfather, Bernie “Boom-Boom” Geoffrion (a Hall of Famer) won six Stanley Cups and is credited with inventing the slap shot. His great-grandfather Howie Morenz (also Hall of Famer) won three Stanley Cups in his career.
“Obviously one of my goals was always to play for Nashville and now to get this chance is really special,” Geoffrion said.
The 22-year-old University of Wisconsin graduate said he still remembers his father buying Predators jerseys for him and his siblings when the franchise was started in 1998.
He also remembers his first memory at a Predators game (Rob Valicevic’s hat trick in ’99 against the Avalanche) and being season ticket holders — a purchase he expects his father to make again now that he’s joined the team.
Despite his hockey legacy, Geoffrion was not a stand out initially. His development had been steady throughout his career, but Geoffrion’s senior year was also his biggest year on the ice.
That season Geoffrion won the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey’s best player. His stats went up significantly; he scored 50 of his 114 collegiate points in his last season. Geoffrion had 28 goals, 22 assists, and led Wisconsin to the national championship where they lost to Boston College.
“I got a little more experience mentally and physically,” Geoffrion said. “I matured a little more. I knew that I needed to develop a little more and get that confidence. Now I have that confidence to believe in myself and my ability.”
Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton said that it was “character and hockey sense” that were the two traits that first drew the team to Geoffrion.
Geoffrion said he is excited to get on the ice for his hometown team but like his fourth year in college, he knows he still has to develop. He’s prepared to spend some time with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Predators’ American Hockey League affiliate. He already got his first taste of professional hockey helping the Admirals in this year’s playoffs.
“My attitude coming in is that I want to make the Nashville Predators,” he said. “But I have to be realistic. They say the road to Nashville is through Milwaukee so I know in the back of mind I could be sent down to Milwaukee and spend some time there. But as an athlete and competitor you come in wanting to play at the highest level. I’m going to come in, work hard, and if I get sent down to Milwaukee I’ll play as hard as I would anywhere else.”