Thursday, 5 July 2007

The Logo Is Appropriate

Making its way through the hockey world today is the announcement that a local group in Nashville has banded together to buy the Nashville Predators franchise from Craig Leipold. Included in the group are David Freeman, chief executive officer of 36 Venture Capital, and Herb Fritch, chief executive officer of HealthSpring Inc., two businesses based in Nashville, Tennessee. This seems like a vaguely familiar solution to keeping a team in a city. It worked once. Can it work for the Predators' franchise? Is the offer as competitive as the offer from William Del Biaggio?

First, some history. The Edmonton Oilers were nearly moved to Houston in 1998. In the closing hours before the deadline, a consortium of 37 Edmonton-based "owners" who called themselves the "Edmonton Investors Group" put in a bid that would keep the Oilers in Edmonton. The NHL backed the EIG as it risked losing valuable Canadian television contracts with Rogers' Sportsnet and CBC's Hockey Night In Canada with the departure of another Canadian team to a US market.

The problem, at the time of the bid by the EIG, was that the Oilers were rebuilding as Peter Pocklington was selling off his best assets in order to prevent his bottom line from bleeding more red ink. Stars such as Curtis Joseph, Bill Guerin, and Doug Weight were either traded or let go via free agency in order for the team to maintain some fiscal sanity.

It appears that this is the same old story for the Nashville Predators as of today. Gone are Kimmo Timonen, Peter Forsberg, Paul Kariya, and Tomas Vokoun as owner Craig Leipold tries to end the years of red ink. The next move, as announced yesterday, would be that a local consortium of owners would step to the front of the line for bidding on the franchise in order to keep the team in Nashville.

If this story follows the same course as the Oilers' story, the Predators will surely miss the playoffs as they go through another rebuilding stage in their franchise history. If they hold on to enough talent, they will be a fringe playoff team, ending up in seventh or eighth in the Western Conference.

If the team is seventh or eighth, they simply will not attract the fans they so desperately need. If they miss the playoffs, the fans in Nashville will surely stay away. Nashville doesn't have the rabid, hockey-mad fans that Edmonton does. They don't have a waiting list for season tickets, and the city itself doesn't have the same passion for hockey that Edmonton does.

Sell the team to Del Biaggio. Give someone else a chance. I'm not saying that the team should be moved to Kansas City, but I am saying that if Leipold doesn't want to own the team, it is better to sell sooner than later, especially during free agency. The Predators have lost too many stars already to attract a large fanbase looking for big-name stars to which they can cling.

The alternate logo I posted above is appropriate. The Nashville Predators, for the most part, are already dead.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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