Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the National Post,
Gary Bettman, for all our jeers, is no fool. We all loathe him for giving up on Winnipeg and Quebec City, but he fought like a mother bear to protect the six remaining Canadian franchises, bending league rules to permit Edmonton and Calgary to adopt distributed-ownership structures….
In expecting him to give up on the growth of the game in the U.S. and start repatriating NHL franchises to Canada willy-nilly, we’re asking him to abandon a plan that has worked out just fine by the only measure that matters to him—the owners’ bottom line. Even after deliberately turning down the high bid for his asset, Leipold is likely to end up earning about 9% per year in nominal dollars on his original US$80-million investment in the Predators. That’s what we call a satisfied customer.
added 8:45am, from the National Post,
The National Hockey League was prepared to deliver a team to William (Boots) Del Biaggio and Kansas City’s Sprint Center as part of a plan to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, sources told the National Post yesterday.
Sources said the league, which didn’t want to lose a value market in Pittsburgh, asked the Kansas City investors to back off their chase of the Penguins while indicating to the group it would be next in line for an NHL franchise.
from Mike Zeisberger at the Toronto Sun,
Come on. Kansas City?
When will commissioner Gary Bettman and his colleagues finally stop this pipe dream of shoehorning the NHL into each nook and cranny of the U.S.?
Hockey is a niche sport in many pockets south of the border. Many Americans just don’t care about it.
Phoenix. Florida. Nashville ... the list goes on concerning struggling, non-traditional hockey markets there.
Perhaps this is all about the all-mighty dollar and the NHL’s tangled web of bureaucracy but Mr. Bettman should remember one thing.
More than 14,000 season tickets were sold in Hamilton in two days.
If you read Spector today, you know he received a heads-up on Peter Forsberg undergoing surgery. Here is a bit more from the Denver Post…
Peter Forsberg’s hockey future once again is under a cloud of uncertainty as the former Avalanche star is scheduled to undergo surgery today on his troublesome right ankle, two sources close to the player confirmed.
Forsberg was scheduled to have his right ankle operated on at a hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, near his hometown of Ornskoldsvik.
Forsberg, 33, must be inactive after the surgery for several weeks, casting doubt on whether he’ll be ready to play at the start of the coming NHL season.
Yes hockey fans, the Nashville situation is getting more frustrating by the day…
Bob McKenzie from TSN gives us some insight…
As it relates to Craig Leipold: In my estimation, Leipold wasn’t coerced by the league into potentially taking a lesser offer, he did so because he’s a practical man. And if Leipold knew anything, he knew that Balsillie was never going to be approved by the league as the owner of the Predators. Not now. Not ever.
It wasn’t always that way. I believe Leipold thought at the outset of his dealings with Balsillie it was possible for Balsillie and the league to find some common ground, but that quickly evaporated when it seemed every move made by Balsillie was an affront to the way the league does business. Leipold said as much in his correspondence to the league last week, when he said, he was “unaware” of Balsillie’s singular determination to take the franchise to Hamilton.
from Theresa Tedesco And Matthew Sekeres of the National Post,
According to sources familiar with the events, Craig Leipold, owner of the Predators, informed Mr. Balsillie late Monday—less than a week before their deal was to close on June 30—that he has decided to walk away from the US$238-million offer announced last month. Instead, he plans to pursue a less lucrative bid from California businessman William “Boots” DelBiaggio. It is widely expected that Mr. DelBiaggio will relocate the Predators to Kansas City once Nashville’s lease at the Sommet Center arena expires.
added 10:41am, from the Globe and Mail,
A source familiar with the negotiations confirmed that Predators owner Craig Leopold has told Balsillie’s lawyers that he is considering a bid from William “Boots” Del Biaggio, unless Balsillie meets new conditions.
Mr. Del Biaggio is reported to have offered less than $190-million (US) for the team, compared to Mr. Balsillie’s $240-million offer.
from the Nashville City Paper,
A local group of investors being assembled to buy the Nashville Predators could have a proposal ready within the week for current owner Craig Leipold’s review.
Nashville attorney Chase Cole is serving as legal counsel for the group, which includes healthcare executive David Freeman. Cole is also advising the group on civic aspects of their deal in addition to helping identify potential investors. He declined to name any of the investors.
Cole said Monday afternoon that the local group would like to have a proposal ready within days for Leipold to review.
But moving into the backyard of the Leafs and Sabres is another can of worms entirely, one that could put the legality of the territorial rights veto to the test.
Consider Gary Bettman’s plight: At the end of the day, no matter what the outcome, one or more of his constituents are going to be mighty, mighty unhappy, and the lawyers are already sharpening their pencils.
Makes sense for him to chip away at Balsillie’s character, to try to stall a deal by procedural means, to encourage him to walk away or, at very least, to prevent a vote, and a veto, at all costs.
A rock and a hard place, indeed.
Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail breaks it all down for us…
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Why would anyone who actually follows the sport continue to pay for season tickets in a building that isn’t sold out when the owner is so ruthlessly savaging the entertainment value for that customer? Some teams do it by mistake, but this is being done simply to cut payroll.
This almost certainly means the Predators will lose revenue this season. If they do, they will have done so intentionally, and every single player in the NHL will suffer when it comes time to calculate both the final escrow payment on this coming season’s paycheque and in the calculation of next season’s cap.
What kind of partnership do you have when your partner takes unilateral action that will further his own financial aims, whatever they might be, by taking money out of your pocket without the least consultation or input from you?
from the Tennessean,
Poile said the trade of Vokoun, who was scheduled to make an average of $5.7 million over the next four years, should mean the Predators are where they need to be financially.
The team is expected to be near the basement of the salary cap in the coming season, which is likely to mean somewhere in the $32 million to $34 million range.
“The decision to trade Tomas was a big decision from a team standpoint and it was a big move financially,’’ Poile said. “It’s put us in a position where we want to be.
“So any other trades going forward, if we want to make any more trades, will in all likelihood be for players as opposed to draft picks.’‘
more on the Preds…
from Scott Burnside at ESPN,
“Why can’t he just do things like everyone else?” one top team official said Saturday.
If Bettman is successful in driving Balsillie from the process, it’s possible the Predators could exist in limbo indefinitely, losing money and playing to smaller and smaller crowds. Hardly an ideal situation for Leipold, one of Bettman’s staunchest supporters, and hardly an ideal situation for owners who stand to see their own franchises devalued by the possibility of having the Predators twist in the wind well into this season.
“This is just a horrible situation for the league,” the source said.
Since Balsillie began his quest for the Predators, he has yet to meet with any other owners. The source added there was a meeting set with the board of governors’ executive committee for last Tuesday, when some of these issues might have at least been discussed, if not resolved, but it was canceled at Bettman’s behest because two members couldn’t attend. Meanwhile, a league source insisted there was no executive meeting planned.
So, we ask again, isn’t it about time the league’s owners insist that they hear from the would-be owner themselves? Isn’t it?
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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