Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
A source close to the negotiations told ESPN.com that Leipold wants to remain in the NHL and that plans are in the works for him to step into an ownership role with the Minnesota Wild after cutting ties with the Preds and when current Wild owner Robert O. Naegele Jr. decides to step away from the business.
Both Leipold and Naegele declined to speak to ESPN.com about their future plans and Leipold did not respond to a specific e-mail query about his plans with the Wild.
Fair enough. But if such a plan is in the works, it would go a long way in explaining Leipold’s reticence to do anything to tick off Bettman, who continues to rule the board of governors with an iron fist, threatening millions of dollars in fines if team officials speak on the record about the ownership debacle unfolding in Nashville.
from the Nashville Predators,
The sale price for the franchise is $193 million. The sale must be approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors. The anticipated closing date for the transaction is no later than September 30, 2007.
“I am thrilled that David Freeman and his local group have joined up with Boots Del Biaggio and come together to purchase the Predators,” Leipold said. “My hope is that their commitment to Nashville will be reciprocated in the form of business and individual support on an ongoing basis to make this franchise successful for the long-term. This is a great day for Predators fans, players and staff!”
added 8:46pm, from Scott Burnside at ESPN,
In the wake of Wednesday’s announcement that a group of Nashville businessmen had signed a binding letter of intent to purchase the Predators, we can’t help but feel that unless these owners find a similarly empowered budgie or parakeet to plant a similar smacker of life on the team, they will be nothing more than caretakers of a team doomed to exist on life support until the moving trucks back up to the arena doors.
Despite all the back-slapping and toasts toward a long future in Nashville that accompanied the announcement, the future of the team is far from secure.
from the Kansas City Star,
A Nashville group planning to sign a letter of intent to buy the Nashville Predators today is expected to include William “Boots” Del Biaggio, who also has a contract to own an NHL team for Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
Del Biaggio could not be reached for comment today, but was in Nashville for the announcement.
The Predators have a long-term lease with the Sommet Center in Nashville, but they must average 14,000 fans per game this season or the lease could be voided.
By being part of the Nashville ownership, Del Biaggio—who has been a minority partner in the San Jose Sharks—would boost his profile and status in the NHL and give him leverage to move the club to Kansas City.
via Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
Remember The Spirit of Manitoba? That was the group of Winnipeg businesses that banded together in an attempt to stop the Jets from moving; they too had fans rejoicing at the prospect of pulling the franchise back from the brink of relocation, yet ultimately couldn’t stop the move from coming to pass.
I’m not guaranteeing the same fate for the Predators, but their fans definitely should hold off on the victory celebrations for a while. If history repeats, their darkest day may yet be to come.
from the Tennessean,
Nashville has 24 players it believes should be on the NHL roster — 14 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies. Only 23 can be carried on the roster during the regular season.
So if everyone stays healthy as the regular season nears, some kind of trade is likely.
“Something has to give,’’ General Manager David Poile said, adding that movement could come either at the forward or defense positions.
“I could go either way, with the combination of the coaches’ preference as to where we have better players, where we need depth, where we’re healthiest. There could be any number of reasons we pick one player over another — it could be age, could be potential, asset value.’‘
from the Tennessean,
Almost two weeks after a daylong rally generated the sale of 726 season ticket equivalents for the Predators, the team continues to garner interest but is still short of last year’s total.
Since the July 19 event at Sommet Center the Predators have sold an average of 20 a day, according to Steve Violetta, the team’s executive vice president of business affairs….
The season ticket renewal rate is about 73 percent. Historically, Violetta said, it’s from 82 percent to 88 percent, so at least an additional 10 percent in renewals should come.
New season ticket sales are at 2,100 since the sales push begin in March, when the Preds were heading to the playoffs.
The Tennessean also has a story regarding the local investor group trying to purchase the Predators…
Wes Goldstein of CBS Sportsline is passing out summer grades to the NHL teams in the Central Division.
Nashville and Columbus fans, you won’t be happy.
from the Tennessean,
From all indications, a proposed local ownership group is getting very close to putting a deal together to purchase the Predators from Craig Leipold. An announcement could be forthcoming by early next week.
Unlike a previous failed negotiation process between Leipold and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, it is likely that any deal between Leipold and a group headed by Nashville entrepreneur David Freeman would require the prospective buyers to put down a significant non-refundable deposit as a show of commitment.
via the Nashville Predators, Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile announced the signing of free-agent forward Martin Gelinas to a one-year contract this afternoon.
from Scott Burnside at ESPN,
Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has accused NHL commissioner Gary Bettman of forcing the owner of the Nashville Predators to break off discussions about the sale of the team to Balsillie, ESPN.com has learned.
The Canadian ownership group also alleges Bettman directed Predators owner Craig Leipold to focus on closing a deal with William “Boots” Del Biaggio III, who is the front man for a group trying to bring an NHL team to Kansas City.
“We were advised by Mr. Leipold that the commissioner had found out about the existence of the negotiations and ordered him to immediately cease any further communications with us,” Balsillie’s legal representative, Richard Rodier, told ESPN.com this week.
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