Kukla's Korner Hockey
If the Nashville Predators are not sold by June 30, which seems unlikely now, sources say club owner Craig Leipold is prepared to vastly trim his player payroll next season, even if it means dismantling a Stanley Cup contender.
The so-called scorched earth tactic, reminiscent of baseball’s Florida Marlins, is designed to minimize financial losses next season, which will almost certainly approach US$10-million, and force the City of Nashville to buy more tickets if it wants to keep professional hockey in the Tennessee capital.
from the Nashville Predators,
The Nashville Predators today delivered written notice to the Sports Authority of Metropolitan Government (as required by Section 2.3 (b) of its license agreement) that the club reserves the right to cancel the license agreement at the end of its 2007-08 NHL hockey season if the average number of tickets sold to home games played at the Sommet Center (excluding exhibition and preseason games) during the “cure season” does not equal or exceed 14,000 per game.
read on for a statement from Leipold…
from the Nashville Post,
Sources told NashvillePost.com that the sale to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie is in danger because of Metro’s legal wrangling over the lease with the team, and the result could be a legal war between the city and the Predators. Attorneys from both sides have been meeting for weeks and team owner Craig Leipold and his attorneys are meeting with Mayor Bill Purcell and the city’s attorneys this afternoon.
read on...the lawyers take over from here…
from the Tennessean,
A longtime Metro Sports Authority member and local attorney says that even if the Predators hit 14,000 in paid attendance next season, an owner could still try to move the team.
Steve North said Friday that an owner could choose to break the lease himself, pay Metro a fee of approximately $27 million for “liquidated damages” and then move the team.
That scenario, however, is unlikely to occur, according to North.
from the Nashville Post,
NashvillePost.com has learned that a group of local businessmen, including some from the healthcare sector, is putting together an ownership proposal for the Nashville Predators. The bid would be offered only if current owner Craig Leipold’s deal with Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie falls apart.
Those familiar with the deal acknowledge that they have not presented a proposal to Leipold and are prohibited from doing so while Balsillie’s offer is on the table.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
As for Leipold, considering that the Predators have fewer than 9,000 season-ticket holders in Nashville, perhaps he was shocked into silence by the fact Hamilton sold almost as many tickets (7,200) in less than a day.
However, a fellow can’t help but wonder why Leipold isn’t making a lot of noise about the reticence of the league’s head office to move this sale along.
If the opposition to Balsillie’s bid is as broad as several NHL sources indicated this week, then Leipold has a lot to lose — somewhere in the range of $48-million (U.S.).
As part of his strategy to convince the NHL owners to accept him in terms they understand — greed — Balsillie agreed to pay Leipold upward of $238-million for the franchise, well above the going rate.
This instantly gave the league’s owners the prospect of seeing the value of their own franchises climb.
added 8:00am, from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
But behind the scenes at Elgin Theatre there was much melodrama in the ever-developing plot about a possible seventh Canadian franchise.
Commissioner Gary Bettman was said to be livid with Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie for flaunting the idea of moving the Nashville Predators to Hamilton during the Stanley Cup final, and putting the rights to purchase season tickets on sale the day the league was holding its gala to honour its best.
“They’re stealing the show,” said one NHL governor from the East.
“He’s going about it all wrong,” a Western Conference governor said of Balsillie’s moves.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Either Jim Balsillie relishes a good fight or he’s determined that the NHL can’t legally stop his bold move to bring a second franchise to southern Ontario.
The latter seems to be the smartest guess, and my goodness, this is becoming quite the spectacle, not to mention the biggest hockey story of the year.
Even before actually taking a seat among the tight circle of NHL owners, Balsillie has gone out of his way to identify himself as a flamboyant renegade.
added 8:03am, from the Nashville Post,
If the deal does fall apart and Leipold retains ownership, it doesn’t mean that everyone can sit back, wipe his or her brow and say, “Boy that was a close one. We’re safe now.” Leipold could move the team himself.
Although he has said he wants to keep the team here, he also said he can’t make it work in Nashville without substantial corporate sponsorship and ticket sales.
What’s more, even if the ticket sales increase to keep the team here, that may not be enough to stem losses, leaving Leipold and the NHL in quite the dilemma – a money-losing team with an owner trying avoid more losses stuck in a long-term lease.
from the CP via TSN,
Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, had hoped to get an audience at the NHL’s board of governors meeting next week in New York to clear the air on his tentative purchase of the Nashville Predators and possible relocation to Hamilton, but it’s not going to happen.
Neither the relocation question or the actual vote on the ownership transfer will be on the board of governors’ agenda and Balsillie won’t be invited to the meeting, a source told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.
Another source said that the NHL considers the request to deal with relocation ‘‘premature’’ because there is a valid and binding lease in Nashville.
Balsillie’s camp doesn’t seem concerned.
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
But putting Hamilton out into the open signals open warfare which should lead to a battle royal between the Balsillie interests and Commissioner Gary Bettman who wants a territory rights fight about as much as he wants Bob Goodenow back as head of the Players Association….
This is one of the great tests of Bettman’s control in the history of his tenure with the NHL and there’s no sure sense of the outcome except that Balsillie and company have shown their hand and they aren’t going to back down.
more and other NHL topics…
What do Southern belle Kellie Pickler and Canadian hockey player Jordin Tootoo have in common? Says Pickler: “We’re each other’s biggest fans.”
The former American Idol contestant, 20, and the Nashville Predators right wing, 24, met after they bought condos in the same Nashville complex, where Tootoo spotted Pickler and asked for her phone number.
Pickler tells PEOPLE they were friends at first, but the relationship had turned romantic by spring.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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