Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
The Nashville Predators have traded goaltender Tomas Vokoun to the Florida Panthers for a first-round pick and two second-round picks.
Vokoun, 30, was 27-12-4 with a 2.40 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 44 games with the Predators last season. He missed time in the middle of the season with a thumb injury, and backup Chris Mason ended up putting up even better numbers (24-11-4, 2.38, .925).
From CBC, an interruption from the usual…
Rankin Inlet has been abuzz this week with sightings of a celebrity couple — hometown hockey hero Jordin Tootoo and his girlfriend, American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler.
The NHL player has been dating the country singer since January and has brought her home to Nunavut to meet his family.
Most of Pickler’s northern time has been spent at the Tootoo cabin, far from noisy gadgets and her condo in Nashville.
“[There’s] no cellphone service here, so that’s a big plus. No one probably knows what a cellphone is here, do they?” she joked in a CBC interview.
continued… (Alas, young love. Why must it annoy me so?!)
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The most reasonable process for Bettman to follow would have been to invite Balsillie to Manhattan yesterday to make a presentation to the board and answer a few questions. Nothing formal. No vote on the ownership of the Predators.
Instead, Bettman avoided dealing with the issue at all. The biggest news of the day then became that Jeremy Jacobs, Bettman’s No. 1 supporter, who has singlehandedly remade the once proud Boston Bruins into a failed franchise, is now chairman of the board.
The battlefield is now well-defined. Three Americans – Bettman, Daly and Jacobs – dedicated to defeating Balsillie’s bid to bring hockey to the world’s richest hockey market.
And never having to really explain why.
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.)
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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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