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I was never a fan of mustard on my hot dog, anyway.

Friday, May 25, 2007
I'm sorry, did I say I'd be back in action yesterday? I meant today. Yeah.

Ah well. That ends that nice streak of weekday posts. But you got to admit, managing to get back into being active with over two weeks of posts is a step in the right direction, eh? Either way, I needed a day to relax yesterday. I kicked back and played some video games (nothing like a little zombie slaughter with Resident Evil 4), exercised on Dance Dance Revolution (despite the name, I want to let everyone know I can't dance to save my life), and then took a 5 mile walk back and forth to go to the town center nearby and see Spider Man 3 in the evening (it was ... good. Not great, but also not bad, either).

So with a full day of R&R under my belt, what's the first topic that I should touch on this morning? How about ... the possible sale of the Nashville Predators to Co-CEO of Research in Motion Jim Balsille? I mean, it is a mildly important topic, isn't it?

So far, the speculation du jour is that the moment that Balsillie is given the league seal of approval for his $220 million bid (that's a wad of cash right there, and I bet ol' Bettman must be chomping at the bit for such a high priced sale since it'd help the league's image in terms of average franchise value), he'll be fixing to try and get the Predators out of Nashville as early as next year. I'll spare everyone the details concerning ticket sales, ways to keep the team in Nashville, and so on and so forth, since it's already been said plenty of times. In short, a 14,000 average attendance next season (by ticket sales, not gate attendance) means they stay, and can go if it doesn't hit that magic number.

To say the least, Nashville has been the biggest black eye to Bettman's 1999-2000 expansion drive which added the Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the aforementioned Nashville Predators. While Minnesota has gotten good financial results from a very passionate fanbase, Atlanta has finally broken through to making the playoffs for their first time ever and is also working to better right the ship with more efficient ownership and youth hockey growth, and Columbus -- despite their abysmal on-ice performance -- ranked 18th in the league in attendance and has had at least stable attendance prior to the lockout (when you're as bad as the Jackets and still sit 18th in attendance, you're doing something right), Nashville has just about suffered financially since the start. And the thing is, the Predators have probably been the most successful of these expansion brethren on the ice, with three consecutive playoff appearances.

Though I suppose the folks in Minnesota could make a legitimate argument that with one less season than the Predators, they've gotten two playoff berths, with one of those leading to a Cinderella run to the Western Conference Finals, while the Predators have flamed out all three times in the quarterfinals. But that's a debate for another day.

Either way, the team has failed in just about every way to draw fans, despite needing all of just three seasons to make it to the playoffs for the first time in their history. Attention to the team comes after everything from college basketball to NASCAR to football to ... well, a lot of things. It isn't even entirely that Nashville is a Southern market ... look at the Carolina Hurricanes, for example, which managed to capitalize decently off of its Stanley Cup championship despite being in a basketball hot bed. Or how about Tampa Bay, which has had probably even more success in drawing fans to them when you look at their strong attendance, with several games going beyond what is considered seat capacity?

I don't know whether Balsillie will be able to somehow move the Predators to where he wants to move them, which is Southern Ontario if you're going by what most every pundit in Canada is saying (and even many outside of the Great White North). There's also been talk about Bettman and other owners balking at the idea of someone coming in who wants to move a team back to Canada, meaning that even the appealing $220 million price tag on the Predators might not be enough.

But consider just how much the Predators have taken from the revenue-sharing agreement, and then think about the benefits of swallowing your pride, admitting that some markets just aren't able to handle a team, and move on to greener (you know, the color of money) pastures. So expansion didn't work in Nashville ... it's worked well so far in one of four locations, is starting to work in another one, and will work sooner or later in the third location once said third location franchise trots out a good product.

In any event, if they can manage to stay in Nashville and start to break even while drawing the required amount of average ticket sales? More power to the Predators, then. But if not? Well ... such is life.

Dis or Dat time, and peace out!





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Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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