Kukla's Korner Hockey
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?
from Pierre Lebrun of the CP via Metronews,
Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie remains in the mix to buy the Nashville Predators despite Friday’s apparent setback.
A source close to Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, said Saturday that nothing has changed in his bid to complete the purchase of the NHL club from Craig Leipold.
from Alan Adams at Sportsnet,
Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg are both unrestricted free agents this summer and don’t look for them to be back in Nashville next season.
And don’t look for Nashville to be active in the free agent market. You can’t spend money you don’t have. General Manager David Poile has one hell of a selling job on his hand to get anyone to sign with his team.
The Predators didn’t average 14,000 per game in ‘06-07, and it’s in praise of folly to think the fans will pack the Sommet Centre, unless selected suckers don’t mind paying major league prices to see a team that might win a minor league title.
Maybe the Predators should mirror what the Carolina Hurricanes did when they played to sparse crowed in Greensborough. They put a curtain around the upper bowl of the arena in an effort to make the place looked packed.
From Damien Cox at the Toronto Star,
Imagine the immense pressure being exerted on Craig Leipold, the man who no longer wants to own the Nashville Predators.
On one hand, the NHL, through misguided commissioner Gary Bettman, is leaning on Leipold daily not to sell the Preds to Waterloo billionaire Jim Balsillie.
Bettman is operating on an ABB (Anyone But Balsillie) basis, uncaring that the Predators are being dismembered, sold off piece by piece, while he tries to make sure the team moves anywhere but Southern Ontario.
Let’s be clear. Bettman doesn’t care if the Preds are turned into a hollow shell next season. He cares only about directing them to Kansas City or Las Vegas or some other place that won’t care about them very much.
Update 9:12am EDT:
More on this situation from John Glennon at The Tennessean.
From TSN, breaking news,
Nashville owner Craig Leipold has advised the NHL to no longer consider Jim Balsillie as a prospective owner of the team.
Sources say Leipold told the league the absence of a finalized sale agreement and Balsillie desire to move the franchise to Hamilton are the reasons for his decision.
more soon… (whoa…)
Updated 9:28pm EDT:
More from TSN,
It’s the second time Balsillie has been spurned in his efforts to buy an NHL team. He backed out of an earlier agreement to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Balsillie had agreed to pay up to $238 million for the Predators. There was a deadline of June 30th put in place to complete the details of the sale.
Leipold, however, pulled the plug early.
Balsillie had already started putting the wheels in motion to move the team to Hamilton.
At a board of governors meeting in New York earlier this week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called talk of moving the Predators “premature.”
Updated 10:26pm EDT:
More from Scott Burnside at ESPN.
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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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