Michelle Kennedy, Nashville Predators
In 10 years, the Nashville Predators have gone from a franchise on the brink of relocation and ownership uncertainty to one of the strongest markets in the NHL with a game-day experience that is among the best in pro sports.
Reflecting on this drastic shift and the team’s magical run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final highlighted by the tens of thousands that took to the city’s streets for watch parties, Predators Chief Operating Officer Michelle Kennedy said one thing comes to mind: “It’s certainly a lot more fun now than it was back then.”
“When I think back of what shape the organization was in and where it is now, I get chills,” said Kennedy, who joined the team in 2008 as in-house counsel after serving as an associate director of athletics at Vanderbilt University and as an auditor at KPMG. “You wake up every morning and pinch yourself.”
But Kennedy, who oversees all governance and compliance, legal, finance, IT and human resources matters, and the rest of the organization have no plans to rest on their laurels.
“We love riding the big wave, but we’re not people who are satisfied,” she said. This summer, those changes include tweaks to game presentation and arena upgrades, including a new audio system, control room and LED ribbon boards.
“We’ve coined this term around here, unapologetically irreverent,” she said. “We do hockey our way, and we think it’s very endearing — we love to watch people have fun.”
— Ian Thomas