Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Tim Wharnsby at the Globe & Mail (Wednesday’s edition),
The Nashville Predators have a third party officially involved in what has become a turtle race to purchase the struggling National Hockey League franchise.
A local group, headed by health-care executives David Freeman and Herb Fritch and containing nearly 30 investors, put forth its bid to buy the Predators and keep them in Nashville.
The group’s spokesperson, lawyer Chase Cole, and Predators’ senior vice-president of communications Gerry Helper would not confirm the local syndicate’s proposal to team owner Craig Leipold, but a source connected with the group answered in the affirmative.
from the Tennessean,
“I was holding out hope until we talked to (Predators General Manager David Poile) four or five days before free agency,’’ Poile said. “He said there was nothing he could do. His hands were tied.
“With the ownership situation there and so much uncertainty to where the team is going to be and what was going to go on, we had to take a look and see what was out there.’‘
Kariya said he thought about signing a one-year contract with the Predators, secure in the knowledge the team would definitely be in Nashville this coming season. But the 32-year-old left wing wasn’t comfortable with the uncertainty that might follow.
From Nashville Predators.com,
The Nashville Predators have signed a pair of free agents—forward Radek Bonk and defenseman Greg de Vries—to two year contracts. Details to follow.
from the Tennessean,
The question now for the Predators — as the unrestricted free-agency period enters its second day — is whether players outside the organization will be willing to take a leap of faith as well.
Predators Coach Barry Trotz said he doesn’t think it’s so far-fetched to think some free agents would sign a multi-year deal here despite the uncertainty of the future.
“If you look at not the business part, but the hockey part, we are very appealing to a lot of free agents,’’ Trotz said. “We have a great city in terms of where to live; we have a great hockey team; and there are a lot of things we do right here.’‘
From The Tennessean,
Jed Ortmeyer, a 6-foot, 197-pound forward with the New York Rangers last year, has agreed to a two-year contract with the Predators.
The deal is worth $750,000 each season.
Ortmeyer had two goals and nine assists in 41 games last season.
The Nashville Predators announced Saturday that the club has agreed to terms with centre Scott Nichol on a two-year contract and with defenceman Alex Henry on a one-year contract.
Nichol, 32, appeared in 59 games with Nashville this past season, notching 13 points, 79 penalty minutes and a +7 rating.
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
Once it became apparent that Balsillie’s hugely inflated purchase price (one that apparently included sending some $18 million that could reasonably be assumed to be Leipold’s cut of an upcoming expansion pie, wasn’t going to be enough to convince Bettman to roll over and allow Balsillie to put the team where he wanted, who is ultimately responsible for the decisions that may well have gutted the franchise?
Add to that, what does it mean for the future sale of the team?
It is fair to say that an NHL team without Forsberg, Kariya, Timonen, Hartnell and Vokoun simply is not as desirable a property as a team with them, but does that hold true if you’re eventually looking to keep fans in Nashville from buying in excess of 14,000 season tickets next season? Clearly if you want out of Nashville, you don’t want the fans to embrace your team.
from the Daily Press,
Sullivan racked up 22 goals and 38 assists in just 57 games this past season. He will have to wait until next season to hit the ice again.
In order to get there, however, he will need to strengthen his back. The Timmins native is undergoing rehab with a back specialist in Vancouver. Each session includes 45 minutes to an hour of manipulating back muscles, followed by an hour to an hour and a half of strengthening them in the gym, Sullivan said.
“It’s a process that I need to go through to heal,” he said. “Last year was last year. There’s a lot of time from then until the middle of September when camp starts, so we’re not too worried about that.” The injury, nor the topic of the possible sale of the Predators, has swayed Sullivan much about his vision of returning to form next season.
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.
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