How do you like Nashville so far?
Matthew Lombardi: Itís good. Itís been a
pretty easy adjustment. Everyoneís been real
welcoming to my family and they love it so far.
Iím excited moving forward.
What was the decision process like to sign
here? Was it easy? Tough?
ML: It wasnít tough. I already met Barry
(Trotz) at the World Championships a couple
years ago; so I knew him as a coach and knew a
couple of the guys. Iíve played with guys that
have played here, and they have nothing but good
things to say about the organization and city.
Looked like a good fit and was real excited when
I got the call.
When you were an opponent, was this a city you
enjoyed playing in?
ML: Yeah definitely... if you ask guys
around the league, they always love coming to
Nashville. Itís a great city with great
people. Itís just a fun place to be.
Youíve played in Phoenix and Calgary --
small-market and big-market -- do you like
playing in a small market more without a lot of
ML: You know what, itís great. Obviously
Calgary is a great place to play, have great
fans, itís a great hockey-town, and I loved my
time there. But Phoenix was great, too. There
are good things about each city. Iím looking
forward to getting to know this one and getting
to play here.
the practices and skates in the last couple
weeks, have you been able to gain chemistry with
your new teammates?
ML: Itís a great time to get to know
everybody and meet the guys and skate with
everybody. Itís a good time before training
camp to get ready for the regular season.
Since youíre one of the fastest skaters in the
league, do you work on speed a lot or does it
just come naturally?
ML: Every summer you try to improve
things. Obviously itís a speed game, so you
want to keep your speed... if not, try to get
more. Itís one of my assets, so I have to use
as often as I can.
do you look to build off a career year?
ML: For me and most guys, going into the
season they want to improve on the previous year
and build on it. Thatís what I want to doÖ I
want to build on last year and get better as a
player, more consistent, and try to help this
team as much as I can.
Phoenix the last couple years, theyíve had a lot
of off-ice distractions. What was that like as
a player, and how were yíall able to push that
ML: We were a good team, had a really
good group of guys. It was a team that no one
believed in, which kind of motivated us; but at
the same time we were a motivated group in
itself. With the outside things, you couldnít
really control it. You definitely pay attention
to whatís going on because youíre anxious to see
Ė with the talks of them moving Ė if youíll be
there the next year. At one point, you just say
itís out of our hands. A lot of things that
were coming out were repeating themselvesÖ so we
just put it aside and played.
What was your ĎWelcome to the NHLí moment?
ML: I probably had a few that first
year. (Pause) You know what, itís gotta be my
fourth game in the NHL. Things were going
pretty good, and then I coughed the puck up in
the third period against St. Louis. It was a
tied game 1-1 late in the third, and my coach
had confidence in me and threw me out there, and
sure enough I coughed one up in our zone and
they scored and won the game 2-1.
Whatís been the toughest thing youíve been
through in your career?
ML: I got a concussion in the í04 playoff
run, and I didnít play much at all the following
year. That was pretty tough going through that,
not knowing when Iíd come back. It was an
you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
ML: Iím pretty superstitious, a lot of
rituals. Nothing really in particular, but just
kind of do the same routineÖ the way I warm-up,
the way I tape my sticksÖ everything kind of
you have some hobbies you like to get into
during the summer?
ML: When I have some time, I like to go
play golf with friends and family; itís
definitely nice to get out there. Now I enjoy
my family and my kids and that stuff, so itís
good to spend time with them.
were some players you looked up to when you were
ML: My two players were Mario Lemieux and
Steve Yzerman. When youíre a kid, you dream
about being those guys, but theyíre obviously
the best to ever play the game. I always loved
watching those guys play.
Itís Nashville, the country music capitalÖ are
you a country music fan at all?
ML: Iím learning to be (laughs). But in
Calgary, it was a big country music kind of
place. In the room, a lot of guys like their
country music. You kind of learn to enjoy it...
Iím definitely getting to know it. I canít say
Iím a pro, though.
What are your personal expectations or goals
ML: I want to build on what I did last
year, and try to be a big part of this team and
help this team win. The goal right now is to be
a real good, consistent team and I want to be a
big part of that.
Ryan Porth covers the Nashville Predators for TheFourthPeriod.com