A Way Out
Reports are Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM, maker of the Crackberry, is trying to buy an NHL team again. This time it’s the Nashville Predators.
Balsillie’s proposed deal to purchase the Penguins fell apart in large part because of conditions set by the NHL. That was because the NHL believed strongly in Pittsburgh as an NHL market and did not want Balsillie buying and moving the team. It’s no secret Balsillie would like to put a second NHL franchise in southern Ontario, either in Hamilton or the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Whether the league would look more favorably on a relocating of the Predators remains to be seen, but serious questions about the long-term viability of the Nashville market have been raised this season.
Speculating that the deal will be approved:
Nashville, an expansion team that began play in the 1998-99 season, never grabbed the heart of the city. Despite putting a solid team on the ice the past couple of seasons, the team has still been giving away many tickets to attempt to fill the arena (pdf).
When Balsillie was trying to buy and move the Pens there were articles that it should be the Predators, not the Penguins, that would be more suitable for relocation.
The NHL, not wanting to label Nashville as a failure, can now have a new owner swoop in and take the team away.
The NHL would need to put up some resistance to a move. After the fight they put up to keep the Penguins in Steel Town, allowing the Preds to be moved with no strings would be the same to admitting defeat and it’s just not going to happen.
I feel bad for the diehard Preds fans, those who wear the best alt logo in the league. They do exist, there just aren’t enough of them.
I would have liked the NHL to thrive in Nashville, TN, but if you can’t grab the area with that team, it might be the best time to move and capture another city’s heart.
This is possibly Quebec to Denver part two. The Predators came into this past season as serious Cup contenders and they’re likely to be the same this fall.
Speculation about the deal and where the team will wind up is going to be the topic du jour for quite a few jours.
Southern Ontario was the previous target and will likely remain Balsillie’s top choice. Winnipeg will get their hopes up no matter what, because they always do, but seeing as how Balsillie is looking north, the Peg could become an option if S. Ontario is ruled out.
The typical US cities of Kansas City, Houston, and Portland, OR, will come up; but are most likely not in Basillie’s sights.
Someone, somewhere will put on a Nordiques jersey and write a soulful blog post about the league needing another Quebec team again. The flag of the Whale will fly again temporarily somewhere as well. There’s a mall joke I can’t think of, and as it’s highly unlikely the city will be considered, there’s no reason to speculate that much.
Still, “who’s getting a team next” is always a fun conversation. It’ll be one many fans will have with each other in between listening to the talking heads on the radio/tv/internet.
On the would-be-Canadian-teams topic, Damien Cox had a great post yesterday about the Sens entry (and Hamilton’s denial) into the NHL in the early 90s.
Update 515pm: The Nashville Post follows up on the story: Preds owner Leipold tires of losing money; confirms sale. It includes the full text of a letter from Leipold.
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