NASHVILLE — As the red tractor approached Gate 8 of Nissan Stadium Saturday, the roar from Lightning fans assembled to greet them grew louder.
An open-air party wagon behind the tractor carried the Lightning to their Stadium Series outdoor game, and the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions arrived in full Nashville style.
Captain Steven Stamkos stepped off the back of the wagon, wearing denim-on-denim — a sherpa-lined jean jacket with blue jeans to match, a cowboy hat on top of his head and cowboy boots — and led a posse of impromptu cowboys into the stadium for their game against the Nashville Predators.
Each player had his own unique look, but all were in denim-on-denim. Some wore bolo ties, others had huge belt buckles, dark sunglasses and animal-skin boots.
“We like to do fun things and we like to do it as a group, and this is just another way of kind of bonding together, going to the rink and going after the game,” said Lightning forward Pat Maroon, who moments earlier was galloping around the party wagon with a toy stick horse between his legs on the way to the arena.
“We come in as a group, we play as a group and we have beers as a group. I think that’s our mentality, and I think that’s why we’re so close as a group.”
The idea to enter the stadium dressed in denim-on-denim — typically known as Canadian tuxedos — belonged to Stamkos as a way to embrace Nashville’s country music-rich history and have another way to bond as a team. Each player had to order his own outfit on his own.
“I think Amazon was working hard,” said forward Corey Perry, who is playing in his third career outdoor game. “It’s a fun thing to do. This is a special event for everybody. And you know, we’re happy to do this, and to dress up like this is something different and we’re looking forward to it.
“It was pretty amazing,” Perry said. “Right from start walking out of the hotel, there were fans all over the place and doing the little detour downtown, it was pretty cool. I know we are excited to get the game going for sure.”
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Perry used the pregame news conference to poke fun at his longtime friend, Maroon, for the tightness of his jeans.
“Even (forward Pierre-Edouard) Bellemare, he said he’s from France, and he doesn’t know where he got those from,” Perry said. “He said he’s never seen jeans that tight.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to look the part,” Maroon responded. “I look like Rip from ‘Yellowstone.’”
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