“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 19, 2007

The Predators Put On Their Running Shoes, Begin Race To The Bottom

The Predators, in the first of many moves (and non-moves) to jettison player salaries, have traded talented free agents Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell to the Flyers for a first round draft pick. That's right, two good players for a single draft pick. And, to make matters worse, it was the draft pick the Predators originally gave to the Flyers as part of the trade for Peter Forsberg, who will not play for Nashville next season. The Flyers are clearly the winner in this series of exchanges.

Obviously, the Predators are simply dumping salaries and racing for the bottom (cap-wise). Why? Because current owner Craig Leipold wants the hell out, NOW. No better way to speed the process of a sale than to quickly deflate the team's operating costs through salary elimination. Secure a draft pick for the future but dump the stars and veterans and get primed for a rebuilding process that will likely take place north of the border.

It's not a stretch of the imagination to think that Nashville's quick dumping of players like Timmonen and Hartnell will be followed soon by the departure of Paul Kariya and others. And it's also not a stretch to assume that Nashville's front office is simply following the direct orders of Leipold through all of this.

So the Predators spend next season as the NHL's Tampa Bay Devil Rays and then slip quietly in the night to Hamilton, Ontario, and into the open arms of more than 10,000 season ticket holders and new owner Jim Balsillie. The writing, as they say, is on the ice.

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