Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Globe and Mail,
Wayne Gretzky may feel sorry for National Hockey League fans in Nashville, but the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes can see only good things if the Predators relocate to Southern Ontario.
In an interview with CTV’s eTalk, Gretzky said that if the Predators are sold to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and moved the next season to Hamilton, they would do well in what he dubbed “a great hockey area.”
from the AP via Sports Illustrated,
“Currently there isn’t a fully completed application before the board of governors,” Bettman said. “As a result I think people are getting a little bit ahead of themselves on this entire issue.
“It isn’t in any shape or form close to being ready for consideration as it relates to approval of an ownership change. I’m not exactly sure why people are focused on the Nashville Predators being anywhere other than in Nashville at this particular point in time.”
The board isn’t scheduled to meet again until the fall, so any deal likely won’t be approved before next season. The agreement between Leipold and Balsillie carried a June 30 deadline for completion, but that could be extended.
added 7:43pm, from the Kansas City Star,
Though expansion was not on the formal agenda, Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which will manage the $276 million arena scheduled to open in October, said at least a dozen team executives inquired about the market in the event the NHL expands in the next year or two.
“It’s the highest level of attention I’ve ever seen,” said Leiweke, who is governor of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and member of the league’s expansion committee.
“There are two or three prominent people within the league who have asked to come look at the arena. They want to see the building, they’ve heard rave reviews about it, and they want to get comfortable with the marketplace, because they’re not convinced the marketplace works….”
from Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail,
The suspicion is that current owner Craig Leipold will slash the Predators’ payroll to its lowest point, roughly $33-million (U.S.), which could make for an anguished exit from Nashville.
Mason has heard the rumours. The fact he’s heard nothing else is worrisome.
“It started with the sale,” Mason said. “No one saw that coming.
“It was just one day - boom,” said Mason, who has been in touch with several teammates over the past few weeks. “We talk, but the only thing we know is what we hear [on television] or read [in newspapers]. We don’t know any more than you guys do. It just bugs me that nothing is being said.
from the Winnipeg Sun,
So how’s your off-season going so far, Barry Trotz?
“We’ve always had a road map of how we wanted to build our hockey team and try to win a Stanley Cup,” Trotz, the only head coach the Nashville Predators have ever known, said yesterday.
“Well, right now we have a little detour. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to get back on the main highway.”
A little detour? That’s like calling the Grand Canyon a pothole.
Then again, the knee-jerk reaction hasn’t been part of Trotz’s repertoire—how do you think he’s lasted 10 years in the NHL?
from Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail,
The NHL hierarchy right now seems determined to do anything in its power to prevent a blue-chip potential owner from moving a moribund franchise in a dead American market to a Canadian city where folks are falling all over themselves to offer up deposits on season’s tickets.
To that end, various league sources have started trying to demonize Jim Balsillie, referring to him off the record as “a clown,” sending out the message that he’s a Mark Cuban in waiting, perhaps an Al Davis, that he’d be a destructive influence on the league. (Unlike, say, the various former NHL owners who have been led away in handcuffs.)
from Scott Burnside at ESPN,
One team, the Flyers: boldly fixed on the future, determined by the dint of strong ownership and a big bag of cash to reclaim its long-standing place among the NHL elite.
The other, the Predators: adrift in a sea of uncertainty, needing desperately to appeal to fans in Nashville, but instead driving them away because of an ownership vacuum, a vacuum that saw the team trade away the signing rights to top free agents Kimmo Timonen, the team’s best player and captain, and emerging two-way forward Scott Hartnell to the Flyers.
That’ll have them busting down the doors at the Nashville Arena.
from the Tennessean,
Leipold has said he’s lost a combined $27 million over the past two years and isn’t eager to suffer any such losses again. Even though he might not have to pay players he’s signing now in the long run, there is the possibility the proposed deal with Balsillie might fall through, which would leave Leipold on the hook for new contracts.
“Craig is the owner of the team, he’s the one footing the bills and he’s on record as saying he does not want to lose in the area of $15 million anymore on this hockey club in any given year,’’ Poile said.
As a result, Poile said he never even made an offer to Hartnell or Timonen after discussing contract parameters with their agents. Timonen, Nashville’s captain last season, signed a six-year, $37.8-million deal with the Flyers, while Hartnell signed a six-year, $25.2-million deal.
From the Globe & Mail,
Officially, the sale of the Nashville Predators to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie won’t be put to a vote at tomorrow’s National Hockey League board of governors meeting in New York.
Unofficially, it will be the hot topic of the day.
What to do with Balsillie and his bid to buy the Predators has become the NHL’s front-and-centre issue. The co-chief executive officer of BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion Inc. has agreed to pay close to $238-million (all currency U.S.) for a team that is losing money.
As a backup plan, or arguably his true plan, Balsillie is preparing a move to Hamilton, where he is already taking deposits on season tickets.
from Brian Costello of the Hockey News,
It’ll soon become known as the Scott Hartnell theory.
When NHL teams are faced with the decision of keeping an 18-year-old draftee on the roster or send him back to the development ranks, they’ll consider what happened regarding Hartnell.
Hartnell cracked the Nashville lineup as an 18-year-old rookie in 2000-01 even though he had two more seasons of junior eligibility remaining with the Western League’s Prince Albert Raiders.
He had just two goals and 16 points in 75 games that season, but has since evolved into a top-six forward who, according to TSN, signed a six-year, $25.2-million contract with the Flyers Monday.
from Bob McKenzie at TSN,
The Philadelphia Flyers have dipped into the free agent market a little early, thanks to the Nashville Predators.
Because of Nashville’s uncertain ownership future and an expected tight budget in the coming year, sources tell TSN the Predators arranged with the Flyers to give them exclusive negotiating rights to two coveted free agents - defenceman Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell.
Sources tell TSN the Flyers have now signed both Hartnell and Timonen to long-term contracts.
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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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