Thursday, May 24, 2007

We Don't Call Them Crackberries For Nothing

The news broke last night that Jim Balsillie is attempting to buy the Nashville Predators and this morning I see that the Venerable Off Wing Opinion has a Nashville Post story confirming the sale. There's a Presser scheduled for later today.

If the name Jim Balsillie sounds familiar to you it is because he tried to buy the Penguin Scum but walked away when he wasn't allowed to move team. Speculation is running rampant right now about the potential of Balsillie moving the Preadtors to Hamilton, Ontario because that's where he wanted to take the Penguin Scum.

Personally, I think that would be a bad idea.

First of all, the NHL would be replacing one small market franchise with another small market franchise in Canada. Of the six Canadian teams that currently exist, only two of them are on solid financial footing on their own. The other four are dependant upon the salary cap and revenue distribution to remain afloat. Adding another Canadian team in a small Canadian market will not solve the financial problems of the Nashville Predators or the league.

As a matter of fact, putting them into the Toronto Maple Leafs orbit would be even worse than keeping them in Nashville. The Leafs (along with the Canadians) can clearly support themselves but every time the Leafs play in another Canadian city, their fans are very well represented. It would be downright foolish to think that you could put another team into that area and that they would take off right away with a strong fan base. And if they did carve out a strong fan base, it would come at the expense of the Maple Leafs. Why should the NHL jeopardize one of the few franchises they have that can easily support itself? Like it or not, the Canadian market is tapped out and on the off chance that it isn't, adding a team to Canada isn't going to help the league grow in the United States where the real $$$$$ is to be found.

While the Nashville market has not turned out the way the NHL hoped, writing them off right now would amount to an admission that Bettman made a mistake in putting the team there in the first place (I think the bigger mistake was hiring David "Bud" Polie as GM but that's another story). Morons like Larry Brooks will write for days on end about it and never bother to get the facts straight no matter what happens to the franchise in its new city. Bettman has also taken hits for fighting the potential moves of the Ottawa Senators, Buffaslugs, Pittsburgh Penguin Scum, and other teams in financial distress since the Hartford Whalers relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina. He of course was also blasted for allowing Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets to move to Raleigh, Denver, Colorado, and Phoenix, Arizona respectively. So no matter what Bettman does, he's going to hear about it.

What will come of all this remains to be seen, but according to the lease, Nashville will have at least one more season to right the ship before the team can be moved.

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