After spending the first eight years of his career in Nashville, Jordin Tootoo became a favorite among Preds fans.
Tonight, he makes his return to Music City in a polar opposite fashion — as a member of one of Nashville’s fiercest rivals, the Detroit Red Wings.
Tootoo says he’s ready for the challenge.
“I’m just taking it in stride,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “I don’t know what to expect. It should be an experience in itself. Coming into Nashville, driving in on the bus, everything was a first for me.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of mixed emotions out there. I’m excited.”
Tootoo signed a three-year, $5.7 million deal with the Wings last season and has once again emerged a fan favorite.
His enthusiasm for fighting (four scraps already this year) isn’t something the Red Wings are used to — Detroit finished with the fewest fighting majors (15) in the league last season, and in 2010-11 (with 13), and in 2009-10 (with 19).
Speaking of scraps, it’ll be interesting to see if Tootoo can find a dance partner tonight.
It seems highly likely he and Richard Clune will cross paths at some point — Clune leads the Preds in fights this year, with five, and has fought Tootoo before.
Update: Clune is still nursing a jaw injury and wearing a protective mask, so he might not be so willing to drop ’em.