Without a binding agreement between Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, talk of the team relocating to Canada is strictly premature.
That was NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s stern message Wednesday after a meeting of the league’s board of governors.
Leipold and Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, agreed to a term sheet for the transfer of ownership of the club, but that is nonbinding. The delay in closing the deal prevented the sale from being up for vote by the league’s 30 teams before this weekend’s draft in Columbus, Ohio.
Balsillie has already started a process to move the Predators to Hamilton, Ontario, should a potential out in the team’s lease with the arena in Nashville be exercised after the sale’s completion. Leipold announced May 24 he was selling to the team to Balsillie.
“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.
Just three weeks ago, Bettman said he specifically asked Balsillie if had had plans or intentions to move the team, and was told he didn’t. But Balsillie already has gained the exclusive right to bring an NHL team to the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, and Ticketmaster began taking deposits last week for “Hamilton Predators” season tickets. (Full Story)
Nashville Predators 2005-06 season
In 2005-06, the Predators set an NHL record by winning their first four games by one goal each (although two of those were shootout victories, which would have been tie games in previous seasons). They also became only the fourth NHL franchise to start the season 8-0; the last time a team did so was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who set the mark with a 10-0 start in 1993. The Buffalo Sabres tied the Leafs’ record in 2006. The Predators set the franchise mark for wins in a season with a 2-0 shutout of the Phoenix Coyotes on March 16, 2006. In that match, Chris Mason became the ninth goaltender to score a goal. By the end of the season, the Predators had accumulated 106 points—their first 100-point season—and clinched home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in team history. They finished the season with an NHL-best 32-8-1 record at home.
In the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Predators faced the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Sharks beat them in five games.
Nashville Predators 2006-07 season
The Predators acquired veteran center Jason Arnott from free agency on July 2, 2006. Arnott and David Legwand led the team in goals with 27 each. Late in the season the Predators traded two former first round draft picks Scottie Upshall and Ryan Parent, plus their first-round pick and a third-round pick in the 2007 draft, to the Philadelphia Flyers for five-time NHL all-star Peter Forsberg.
The Predators finished the season in fourth place in the Western Conference with 110 points, a franchise record. They were defeated by the San Jose Sharks in the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs Western conference quarter-finals for the second year in a row, losing the series 4 games to 1, for the second straight season.
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