“Bettman has only a marginal interest in the weaker teams. He only wants the NHL to make a bigger profit as a whole.” -- Dominik Hasek

June 23, 2007

Fire Sale In Nashville Continues, Except For The Team Itself

The Nashville Predators are still busy dumping salaries, this time trading star goalie Thomas Vokoun to the Florida Panthers for an array of 2008 draft picks. While surprising to some extent, the Preds still have breakout netminder Chris Mason to rely on. Mason actually put up slightly better numbers than Vokoun after filling in for him during a stint on the injured list.

But while they continue to downsize the payroll, current owner Craig Leipold has requested that the NHL halt all activity in favor of Jim Balsillie's bid to buy the Nashville team until a final agreement is reached. The current deadline is June 30th for a binding deal on the sale. While this doesn't mean the sale is off, it does indicate that Leipold is wary of Balsillie's not-so-subtle intention to move the Predators to Hamilton, Ontario as soon as the 2007-08 season.

Could the Predators end up staying in Nashville? If so, what then? They'll be missing some key stars and have only eventual draft picks to show for them. It could be years before they're a legitimate post-season contender again. Oops.


the dark Ranger said...

So what you're saying is that the Blackberry doesn't work everywhere? Two potential failed bids for a billionaire wanting to own an NHL franchise.

Perhaps his Hamilton concept wasn't NHL-friendly enough, with both Kansas City and Las Vegas both lobbying over the past couple of seasons.

Also, I think Philadelphia benefitted most from last weeks Nashville squeezings, though it may take a couple of years for my 'most-hated' Flyers to come back. (fun to watch them at the very bottom this season!)

ColBerdan said...

Leipold doesn't want to keep losing money, so something has to give. There were reports that a group of locals from Nashville were trying to put something together but they can't approach Leipold unless Balsillie's deal falls through. This might be an attempt to find out what they're offering. Money amounts aside, a sale to a local group would probably be preferable to a sale that moves the team and makes Leipold the Despised Rich-Guy Sports Team Owner in the eyes of the 20,000 people in Nashville that know they have a hockey team.

The team itself will probably be a playoff team next year. Their goal tending will be very good, coaching will be excellent, and they're really only losing three key players (Forsberg wasn't anywhere near the impact player for Nashville in his 2 months there that he was for the Avs). Plus playing in the Central Division will help. They may be rebuilding the next few seasons, but they'll be back soon and aren't falling that far now.

the dark Ranger said...

I agree with your comments -- the Nashville fans were numerous compared to some of the other unimaginable half-houses throughout last season (i.e. Carolina....BELIEVE ME!..I know one of the owners and they sold 75 percent capacity and only 40-50 percent showed up). That alone will keep Leipold confident, until - as you have stated - big dollar talks.

On spec, on news of a potential deal, the Hamilton arena took orders for the equivalent of 100% capacity from donors, corporations and individual soliciations. That will change an owners mind pretty quickly.

Jealous that the game creates such a ruckus north of the border.


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