It has been a long time since Steve Sullivan played a road game at Bridgestone Arena. To put it in some perspective, John Paul II was still the Pope. It was November 7, 2003 when Sullivan, then a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, squared off against the Nashville Predators. The Blackhawks won the game 2-1, with Sullivan posting one assist in 21:09 of ice time.
Later that season, he returned to Nashville after the Predators sent two second-round draft picks to Chicago in exchange for the speedy left winger.
During his time with the Predators, Sullivan played in 317 regular season games, scoring 100 goals and adding 163 assists. He missed nearly two years of action due to a back injury, but eventually returned to the lineup and was named the NHL’s Bill Masterton Trophy winner for perseverance and dedication to the sport of hockey in 2009.
Sullivan’s tenure in Nashville came to an end following the 2011 playoffs. He played last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins before signing with the Phoenix Coyotes last summer.
He will take to the Bridgestone ice for his 980th regular season game Thursday night, an impressive accomplishment for any player, but especially so for one listed at 5’9” and 165 pounds. Sullivan, 38, was drafted in the 9th round (233rd overall) in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.
Following Phoenix’s Wednesday afternoon practice at Centennial Sportsplex, Sullivan was asked if there will be some more emotion to tomorrow night’s game than a regular February midweek contest.
“There will be,” he said. “Right now just being here and seeing everything, it feels very normal. Obviously tomorrow when you step on that ice, for sure, I was here for the better part of seven years I think. That’s a long time.”
Even though he won’t be playing for the team that the majority of the fans in the Bridgestone crowd will be cheering for Thursday, Sullivan has fond memories of playing at 501 Broadway.
“Great fans,” he said. “I look forward to playing in front of them again. They are a loud group and they are very passionate about the game and their Predators. I was glad to be a part of that for a long time.”
Sullivan still has a house in the Nashville area and had the opportunity to meet up with some friends for dinner Tuesday night.
This season with the Coyotes, Sullivan has four goals and one assist in ten games played.