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Hanging with the Tootoo Train

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NASHVILLE, TENN - Rankin Inlet was well represented during action in the second round of the NHL playoffs in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month.

NNSL photo/graphic

Corinne Pilakapsi of Rankin Inlet gets ready to take her whacks at the Canucks car while wearing her brother's (Jordin Tootoo) jersey during the second round of the NHL playoffs in Nashville, Tenn., in May of 2011. - photo courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo and the rest of the Predators were being cheered on by Tootoo's dad, Barney, as well as his sister, Corinne Pilakapsi, and her kids Darrian, 14, Jayda, 11, and Terence, six.

Also in Nashville for the series against the Canucks was Jordin's best friend, Troy Aksalnik.

Barney said Nashville is a bigger hockey town than many people give it credit for.

He said when you spend time talking to people in Nashville, you realize they know a lot about the game.

"It was just crazy inside the Nashville arena during the playoffs," said Barney.

"The fans were still cheering for them when they lost that final game to Vancouver because the seventh man is a big, big deal in Nashville."

Barney said the group had a great time in Nashville, especially the three youngsters.

He said they all have memories to last a lifetime from the trip, and they can't wait to go back.

"The Predators had a car in front of the arena with the Canucks logo on it and, when we arrived for a game, everyone started yelling at us to give it a few smashes.

"It's a big thing there, so we took a turn smashing at it while everyone was cheering.

"It was a lot of fun smacking that car, but I wish the Predators had smacked more Canucks on the ice instead."

Barney said Jordin was like a changed man during the visit to Nashville.

He said he's very proud of his son for getting his life back in order. Tootoo checked himself into the National Hockey League's substance abuse and behavioural program in December for alcohol abuse.

"Jordin is like a changed man after coming through his ordeal there earlier in the season.

"You could just see it on his face and he was having so much fun with the kids, it was just great to see.

"I'm sure there's a lot of other guys who have the same problem, both in Nunavut and in the NHL, and maybe this will encourage some of them to come forward.

"Jordin's doing a tour of the Kivalliq this coming month, so we're looking forward to having him at home in Rankin for a little bit while he's on vacation."

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