Ben Guite is getting used to country music. He said his wife, Kristen, really enjoys it.
That certainly helps when you’re living in Nashville.
Guite signed with the Nashville Predators during the off-season after spending three seasons with Colorado.
The Montreal native is one of seven former University of Maine players who are on NHL rosters. Guite and the Predators will open in Dallas tonight.
The others are Avalanche defenseman Brett Clark, who had an assist in Colorado’s season-opening 5-2 win over San Jose on Thursday night; St. Louis Blues left winger Paul Kariya, who is coming off a pair of hip surgeries last year and had two goals in a 4-3 win over Detroit in Sweden on Friday; Teddy Purcell, whose Los Angeles Kings open at home against Phoenix today; Dustin Penner, whose Edmonton Oilers open against Calgary today, and Jimmy Howard, who is backing up Chris Osgood in goal for the Detroit Red Wings.
Ben Bishop accompanied the Blues to Sweden as the third goalie and will most likely be assigned to Peoria of the AHL when they return.
Several other ex-Bears saw NHL exhibition action but were sent down to the AHL. They included defensemen Doug Janik (Detroit) and Mike Lundin (Tampa Bay) and forwards Andrew Sweetland (Florida) and Greg Moore (Islanders).
Guite will center a checking line between Wade Belak and Jerred Smithson.
The 31-year-old has had to earn his roster spot.
“My job has been on the line ever since I got here,” said Guite. “But I’m here to do a job and I just focus on that.”
Guite played in four exhibition games and didn’t have any points but felt he did some good things.
“I played pretty well. They’re looking for a gritty game and a lot of energy from me. They want me to kill penalties, win faceoffs and play good defense. I think I’ve lived up to expectations in my role, and I’ll continue to do that,” he said. “I love playing hockey and I’m playing my role in the best league in the world.”
Predators coach Barry Trotz, who formerly coached the Portland Pirates to a Calder Cup title in 1994-95, told The Tennessean “[Guite] gives me no reason for him not to be here. He has a lot of bite to him. He’s got personality, he’s got drive, he’s got passion. He has all those things that, over 82 games, is pretty important.”
Guite enjoys playing for Trotz.
“He’s real nice and he’s approachable,” said Guite. “After they signed me this summer, he called me personally to welcome me.”
He said the Predators have a “really good team,” and he is enjoying Nashville.
“It’s beautiful. The people are very nice,” said Guite. “And I’ve always liked playing in this building.”
Guite had 5 goals and 7 assists in 50 games during an injury-marred season in Colorado last year. Purcell had 4 & 12 in 40 games for Los Angeles and 16 & 22 in 38 games for Manchester of the AHL. Penner had 17 & 20 in 37 games for the Oilers. Kariya had 2 & 13 in just 15 games for St. Louis. Clark had 2 & 10 in 76 Colorado games. Howard was 21-18-4 with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage in Grand Rapids (AHL), and Bishop was 15-16-1, 2.81 and .897 with Peoria.
Bishop was 1-1-1, 2.94, .893 in six games with the Blues, and Howard appeared in one game with Detroit and allowed four goals with 24 saves in a loss.