Predators are gone if CBA not agreeable to owner

In an interview on WWTN, owner Craig Leipold stated that the Nashville Predators will not be able to function unless the new CBA addresses the needs of smaller market teams. This is the most direct statement he has made that things are going poorly for the team. Nashville currently has the lowest attendance in the NHL, and the Corporate/individual season ticket base ratio stands at 35/65 – opposite of most other professional team ratios. The team is teetering on the edge, and unless the team solidly makes the playoffs next year, the team will fold or move.Currently the management of the team is fighting to keep a positive spin on what turned out to be one of the worst seasons in team history. They were already facing the impact of the previous season wher they traded away the original Captain, Tom Fitzgerald, and then traded top goal scorer Cliff Ronning. The result of these two trades was something fans could not see any positive effects from. Fitzgerald was traded for mid draft picks, and Ronning was traded for a player who had minimal impact on the team and then was banned for substance abuse (a former Heroin Addict who refused to give up substance abuse.) The team went on a major loosing skid, and ended up in the basement annex of the Western Conference.

This year the team started with injuries to fan favorites Scott Walker and newly appointed Captain Greg Johnson. Scott Hartnell went through a slump – a concussion in preseason left him struggling- and there were injuried to the rest of the main cast in Timmonen, Hulse, and new scorer Johanssen. Goalies Mike Dunham and Thomas Vokun were playing lackluster, and the fans were wondering what would happen next.

Dunham went to the Rangers, and Vokun started playing inspired hockey behind a healthy team that was finally starting to see its first draft pick finally mature into a solid NHL player. David Legwand began to show he was ready to take the next step along with stellar play by Vokun. The team got within 3 points of 8th place in the Western conference, and were actually getting some good press. Fans were starting to come back to games, and they were actually fun again.

Then the wheels started to come off. Johannsen and Legwand get injured, and the team goes on its worst winless streak in franchise history- the worst game of which is the home closing loss to Anaheim – to a less than sold out crowd.

I go throught this history, because most of the board does not have any idea of who the Predators are, and what has happened this season for them. Most don’t care either. Nashville is always listed as one of the teams that other Hockey teams fans would like to see contracted, and the press has been less kind to them than all of the other expansion teams (especially ESPN.)

What is the NHL’s perspective? I am sure that the NHL is not going to contract. It makes no money for them to do so. Moving the team provides the NHL with a nice cash influx as a franchise movement fee, and then the marketing of new sweaters, hats, and t-shirts. The city that gets the team will have a strong nucleus of young players to build on. It is a win-win for the league and the city that gets the team. The only loser is the city of Nashville.

For those that think Leipold will get shafted if he tries to move- Season ticket sales give him a way out if the fan base goes the way it has been once they drop to a certain level for two years in a row (hint- this year was one.) This makes the CBA all that more important to the Nashville franchise. If The CBA goes for the rich owners that don’t care, Nashville is gone. If it goes for the survival of the league and all of the teams, Nashville can survive with a strong team effort next year. If the players want all of the teams to survive, and there to be less competition for jobs, they are going to have to step out of the box also.

The team is on the verge of some good things happening on the ice. The majority of the players are in their low to mid twenties. some are really starting to show promise. They don’t have the supporting cast that a big money team has to allow them to shine. I would point out that Adam Hall should be in consideration for Rookie of the Year. He has put up great numbers on a team that does not have superstars to feed him the puck. His play has been awesome – no-one has been watching him beacuse of the lack of support for the team he is on.

Nashville Management has sent out renewals and season ticket order forms. Mine is already returned with deposit and about $200 in refund money (they are not doing that again). There is a sense that they are aware of the rumors flying that the team is on thin ice financially and attendance-wise. The GM and Owner are trying to put a positive spin on the future. The question is- will the NHL structure allow them to continue into the future?

23 Responses to Predators are gone if CBA not agreeable to owner

  1. sportside24 says:

    Maybe they can move the team to canada????

  2. cwhockey says:

    With the exception of the two kids in Atlanta, the press has been at least as horrible to the Thrashers. Before their good run to close out the season, they were described several times as woeful or pitiful in articles. Kinda surprised me to see those adjectives actually put into a printed article, but they did many times.

    But I think it will be a shame if they have to leave Nashville. It isn’t a hockey town per se, but it can be in time. And the players they have, really makes me want to see how good some of those guys will be in two or three years. And selfishly, I’d love to see a rivalry (such as there can be in different conferences) between Atlanta and Nashville. There were a few hundred fans that made the drive to see the game between these two about 10 days ago.

    Nashville must get that support from the CBA to help their cause. But they have to help themselves as well. Get an experienced coach who can teach to replace Trotz and spend at least a little money in free agency (or even in trade) to get quality support for their young talent. Trotz is a good coach, but at this point for the team it may be time for someone else to come along who can take these players to the next level. Just my opinion.

  3. aafiv says:

    I am with sportside24 – move the team to Canada!

    Why is there an NHL team in Nashville, TN?

    Why is there an NHL team in Tampa, FL?

    Why is there an NHL team in Miami, FL?

    Why is there an NHL team in Phoenix, AZ?

    Why is there an NHL team in Anaheim, CA?

    I could go on forever but these are all warm places where hockey doesn’t belong. Half should be eliminated and the other half should be in Canada.

    Something to think about: [i actually belive the Thrashers will eventually compete BUT] the Flames couldn’t make it in Atlanta – why would another team start there?

  4. Glen says:

    And the bidding for Andy Delmore starts………

  5. bigdog says:

    Why is there an NHL team in Phoenix, AZ?

    …because Winnipeg couldn’t support an NHL team?

  6. mikster says:

    Send them to Winnipeg. It’ll be a sellout every home game where people know what hockey is. Jerseys will be soldout, and other products.

    Good young team, pretty good coach, pretty good GM.

    What the hell are they doing in Nashville? Bettman kills…..

  7. sportside24 says:

    I gaurentee, that if quebec had stayed , and colorado got a expansion franchise they still would not have won the cup yet…Colorado got really lucky to land a already talented team… Look how hard it is for the expansion teams now to compete.. Colorado would be Nashville or columbus right now… That was the stupid of the NHL to move a team stacked so full of great NHL talent and junior talent… Quebec was 1 or 2 players away from being stanley cup champions… Roy and Ozolinsh… No wonder why colorado is doing so well… half the team was drafted in Quebec..

  8. TC_4 says:

    Gawd, I hope this happens. No offense to any Nashville people on this site, but your city in no way deserves a hockey team. Neither does Atlanta(they failed, why do they get a second chance and Winnipeg and Quebec don’t???), neither does Tampa, neither does Miami, neither does Phoenix, niether does Anahiem, neither does Raleigh(sorry if that’s spelled wrong). That’s 7 markets. I don’t care if they’re major American markets, it doesn’t matter when the draw dick unless there in a playoff game. The NHL has to accept the fact that they can’t compete with the 3 major American sports. Until they realize that, they’ll continue to lose money.

  9. titans says:

    Will anyone miss em’?

  10. Flyers_01 says:

    well the Blues and Wings will. How can the Blues and Detroit not have some of the best records in their conference. People wonder how Detroit and St. Louis can look so good, part of the reason is the other teams in their division–Chicago, Nashville, and Columbus. Unless you’re in the Southeast division.. that’s as good as it gets.

  11. wingsrock34 says:

    arnt there only like 3 players left from quebec Foote,Sakic,Forsberg,and…anyone?

  12. Primis says:

    Atlanta got a second chance because of its market size, that’s really all there is to it. And I don’t want to write Atlanta off just quite yet — in a year or two things could be very different because Atlanta (the Atlanta of today is nothing like the Atlanta of when the Flames were around in the late 70’s).

    Phoenix and Raleigh were very poor relocation choices though.

    — Primis.

  13. burky says:

    Get rid of the sunbelt teams (Miami, Tampa, Phoenix, Atlanta, Nashville, Carolina and Anahiem) and hold a dispersal draft.

    I know thats selfish but who here wouldn’t want love to pick up a Heatley, Lecavalier or Richards?

  14. Goldenscud says:

    Quebec or Winnepeg would be cool but their is a reason they lost their teams in the first place.

  15. cwhockey says:

    It wasn’t the lack of fan support in Atlanta during the 70s. The Atlanta Flames were a popular team, and well liked. More than enough support to keep them here. There were ownership issues that forced the move, sounds familiar doesn’t it?

    Hockey is Canada’s sport, you’re not gonna find a convincing argument to the contrary. But to want it completely for yourselves is extraordinarily selfish and an insult to us non-Canadians who love the sport.

  16. Obcd says:

    Phoenix is not going so well too

  17. Obcd says:

    well some kids were drafted by Quebec like Hejduk and Drury I think

  18. TC_4 says:

    I agree. But I’m not saying that Atlanta’s team has no future or anything. My god!!! There Ottawa all over again. I predict, if they bring in 2 good d-men, and another guy up front who can score, they’ll make the playoffs. But, Atlanta still doesn’t deserve a team. I know what your talking about though.

  19. TC_4 says:

    Agreed. I think I fought with you over the nucks ONCE Burky, and ever since then, we’ve seen things the EXACT same way. It’s just too bad your not an Oiler fan!

  20. cwhockey says:

    I could name a good 15 or 20 cities that don’t have an NHL team, but theoretically could support one. What makes one city so much better than another? Size, location, attractiveness of private and corporate sponsorship; the list goes on and on. It can’t simply be a location. I know that quite a few towns in Canada and some in the northern US could be prime spots for an NHL team because the fan base for hockey is more concentrated there. And if those cities were to get the existing southern teams, the game of hockey would stay up north for good. There would be absolutely no growth in its fans, ie no growth for the sport in general. That spells doom for the sport, pure and simple.

    As I posted before, I believe that the Flames left over some ownership issues, not fan support. I’m not sure of exactly what happened, but fairly certain that is the case. And please don’t look simply at the southern location of the city. There is at the least a million people living in or around the city that hail from places that have more “traditional” hockey ties. Atlanta is the home of a number of huge conglomerates, as well as a primary location for dozens of other large companies. In other words, there is a lot of big business here and it brings in people from everywhere. The amount of Canadians and people from the northern US living here could outnumber some Canadian cities. I’m sure that factor (and growth that could bring in even more) was something the NHL took into account when deciding to give a team to Atlanta.

  21. burky says:

    I’m not an Oiler fan, but I did load up on them in my pool. I’m hoping they upset the Stars.

  22. TC_4 says:

    No. Ted Turner is the one and only reason why the NHL gave Atlanta an NHL team. Now there sold. The fact is, they failed there once, and the bottom line is, you need the fan support to get it done. I’m not disagreeing with your facts, but how the hell can you say the game would be doomed if they don’t expand to the South??? Why the hell do they need to? Have you noticed, there is no ice down there! It’s not as if the kids can go outside and play hockey. Not on skates anyways. Start a roller, or street hockey league down there, then we will talk. If you got a guy with enough money to operate, and you actually have a fan base(ie Winnipeg, Quebec, Hamilton, another Toronto team, Portland, Cleveland, wherever else in the states)you will be succesful. So do you think that the NHL should have gave Oklahoma city a franchise instead of Minnesota??? You said that they need new fans, the Minny people would have still loved the game. That’s what your saying isn’t it?

  23. sportside24 says:

    You have to remember thay may not have them now but they traded them away for what they have now… Hedjuk, Tanguay, Sakic, Forsberg, They had Drury and Yelle and traded them to calgary for Morris.. They are probally others, but without those guys were would they be??

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