Thursday, July 23, 2009

Skate of the Union

The Preds held the Skate of the Union meeting tonight to provide updates on the team both on and off the ice. Some of the highlights were:

David Poile

Forget about Radulov. He will not be back this season. Although he has stated that he wants to come back, he cannot get out of his KHL contract. The money quote regarding A-Rad was this, "I don't understand how you can walk away from a contract in the NHL but have to honor one in the KHL."

As regards the team, Poile said that they signed the free agents that they wanted- Sullivan and Ward. Poile said he expects the team this year to be very good, with the younger players improving and veterans like Legwand and Erat to have a strong season. The key will be staying healthy throughout the season. He acknowledged that some fans were disappointed with the selection of Ryan Ellis with the first pick, but that fans should realize that he is a Steve Sullivan type player that plays defense.

He mentioned that adding Martin Gelinas as Director of Player development for the team was a significant hire. He considered Gelinas a consummate professional when he played and would be a great influence on the young players and their development.

Ed Lang

Ticket sales are comparable to where they were at this time last year. He expects ticket sales to pick up now that the schedule has been released and we move closer to the beginning of training camp.

Parking will be an issue with the onset of construction of the new convention center, which will be behind the Sommet Center. The team has been working with the downtown businesses, parking companies, and the Chamber of Commerce to make certain that parking problems do not materialize.

David Freeman

Spoke of the "Predator Way" of building this team. He indicated that the team would not make a huge splash with free agent signings. They would be very selective about going outside the system. Instead, fans should focus on the young talent and its development to fill needs. He felt this was the best way to build the team for the long term- develop your draft picks and then retain the ones that you need and want.

He spoke about the del Biaggio bankruptcy filing and said that it is not close to resolution. That resolution will come when the bankruptcy trustee decides to do something. He said that this is a distraction but has no impact on the team.

He mentioned the third jerseys would be unveiled sometime in September. They would, according to Freeman, have an "original six old school" look and he thought the fans would be pleased.

Freeman cited the strengths of this team: the scouts; the General Manager and front office staff; the coaches; and the passionate fan base.

Steve Sullivan

"I wanted to come back to Nashville." He indicated that he and his family love the city and its people and he felt good about the team and its prospects. He is excited about playing on a line with Arnott and Dumont. He said the back was good and that his exercise regimen is yielding good results.

When asked which young player on the Preds squad impressed him, Sully said Cal O'Reilly. He does a great job distributing the puck.

JP Dumont

JP echoed the sentiments about loving it here in Nashville. He said the fans were amazing, vocal, and passionate. He said that this is noted by other teams/players when they come to the Sommet. He cited the cheer that occurs during the TV timeouts. It gets the attention of the other team and they are impressed with the fan support. Other players on other teams that he talks with comment often about the loudness of our arena.

When asked how the power play could improve, JP said the improvement was sitting next to him (Sully).

It was interesting to get the perspective of the folks on the "inside" both from an operational and a player perspective. Sully brought up a point that I think bears mentioning. Those players on the roster that are in their mid 20's and have been in the league for a while are going to make noticeable jumps in their level of play. They will play better and smarter, with fewer breakdowns. They are hitting the prime of their hockey life, and this should bode well for a team that has been built like the Preds.

The goal of this team, stated by all on stage, is to provide an exceptional fan experience and get the team back to the playoffs. If it plays out like they suggest, the upcoming season should be an exciting one for hockey fans in Nashville.

(No blogging for a while as the View is heading to the beach. Be sure and keep up with all the Pred news with the great bloggers, many of whom were here tonight, that are listed on the right of this blog.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Needle In A Legal Haystack

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of American Needle vs. the National Football League, a case in which American Needle, Inc. filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL claiming under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act that the league was using its monopoly powers to deprive the company of its share of the market for hats and caps bearing NFL team logos. The NFL terminated the relationship with American Needle in 2000 when it awarded an exclusive contract to Reebok to manufacture these and other products. American Needle filed their lawsuit in 2004, and lost the suit at the trial court and in an appeals court. It would seem that the case was dead in the water, but American Needle asked the Supreme Court to review the case and the merits of their claim. The Supreme Court accepts only about 10% of these requests, and unless there was an egregious error at the trial or appellate level, would probably deny this request. However, in a shocking development, the NFL petitioned the Supreme Court to hear this case and render a decision. The NFL has asked the Supreme Court to grant the league total immunity from ALL anti-trust actions. In October 2007, the Supreme Court has said that they will hear the case, and the ramifications of this case could significantly impact every sports league.

The NFL is taking the position that it is a "single entity" rather than a collection of 32 teams that compete with each other. The league claims that the individual franchises only have value in the context of the league itself, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with this position by concluding that the league operates as a single entity by collectively licensing each NFL team's intellectual property. The Seventh Circuit's ruling went against almost 50 years of precedent from other courts with this ruling. By petitioning the Supreme Court to hear this case, the NFL is seeking an expansion of the Seventh Circuit's ruling. Should they win this case and be deemed to operate as a single entity, the NFL will be exempt from the provisions of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. This will allow the NFL not only to avoid the anti-trust challenges to the marketing functions of the league, but also for all "core venture functions" of their business. This would include the setting of salaries for players and coaches, movement of players through free agency, the location of franchises, and the setting of ticket prices, to name some of those "core venture functions".

This is not the first attempt by the NFL to get the courts to view it as a "single entity", and prior to the Seventh Circuit's ruling, they had failed on all attempts. Prior court rulings had acknowledged that NFL teams compete with each other for free agents, coaches, sponsorships, and executives as well as fans. Should the NFL get the Supreme Court to expand the exemption granted by the Seventh Circuit Court, most, if not all, business decisions made by the league would be exempt from anti-trust consideration.

There are numerous legal arguments that will be debated before the Supreme Court in this case. Foremost will be the consideration of 50 years of case law that has consistently been set against the NFL's claim of being a single entity. Gabe Feldman, at Sports Law Blog, has called the Seventh Circuit's decision an "outlier" which would lead one to believe there is a high probability of reversal. It is difficult to predict the outcome of a case that is heard before the Supreme Court, but the bent of the Court in recent years has been more pro-business, and I am certain that the NFL believes that they have a very good chance of success in taking this case to the Supreme Court at this time. It is telling that the Major League Baseball Players Association and the National Hockey League Players Association have already assembled all-star teams of lawyers to support American Needle in this case. At this time, both the NBA players union and the NFL players union have yet to retain attorneys for this trial. Players unions and their counsel are now trying to formulate a strategy to present their views to the Supreme Court.

The average sports fan may not be aware of this case, and even if they are, their response may be, "So what?" Consider these examples. Prior to 2000, American Needle was one of several companies that were licensed to sell official NFL caps and hats, and all companies competed for this business. The average price of a cap with an NFL team logo was $19.99. After the exclusive contract for caps and merchandise was awarded to Reebok, the average price of a cap with an NFL team logo rose to $30.00. Prices of replica jerseys rose on average 60%. Imagine now that the NFL is treated as a "single entity". This would allow the league to set ticket prices for all markets; establish a salary scale for both players and coaches, and have control over ownership and location of their franchises. Under this arrangement, I believe that prices for tickets and merchandise would inevitably rise since the league would have no anti-trust concerns. Free agency would be severely curtailed if not altogether eliminated. The NFL would gain greater control over team operations under the single entity concept. The world of professional sports would be dramatically changed should the NFL prevail with the Supreme Court.

Should the NFL prevail in this case, the precedent would be established for other sports leagues as well. Control of all operations of the any sports league would centralize in the league office. Would this be good for hockey (or any other professional sports league)? Would owners in the NHL lose the ability to tailor their product to their local market? And what happens to the players? I believe that under a single entity business model, the only recourse that would be available to players in a labor dispute would be a strike/work stoppage, which is a nuclear option. Decertification of a players union and pursuit of anti-trust remedies will no longer be an option. Collective bargaining will take on a new tenor as the league would hold the upper hand in this process. I believe in this scenario, each sports league would establish a firm salary scale from which there would be no deviation.

This is a case that bears watching. A ruling in favor of the NFL will impact all professional sports and the fans that pay the freight for their favorite sports team. The case is scheduled to be heard in the spring of 2010, and if the NFL wins, it will transform the sports world.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Financial Storm Clouds Brewing?

The potential bankruptcy of CIT Financial might go little noticed outside the financial world, but could have potentially serious ramifications for the sports world. CIT has been a major financial player in the sports world and the NHL in particular. CIT has provided, among other loans, refinancing for the $130MM loan on ScotiaBank Place, the home of the Ottawa Senators; a $200MM loan facility used by Daryl Katz to purchase the Edmonton Oilers; and was a part of the $350MM loan syndicate that financed the construction of "The Rock"- the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils. It is also believed that they are one of the lenders financing the purchase of the Montreal Canadiens by the Molson brothers. Oh yes, I almost forgot. CIT is also a lender to the Nashville Predators. The Preds currently have a $20MM line of credit with the embattled lender, and CIT was on the hook for $40MM to William "Boots" del Biaggio. That debt was used to as a portion of the proceeds to obtain his 27% interest in the Preds and is currently tied up in bankruptcy court.

The financial arrangements of these loans I have referenced are to private enterprises and therefore are not publicly disclosed. Assume for a moment, however, that these loans have a "call" provision, meaning that the lender can re-negotiate the terms of the loan after a certain period of time. This is often a standard practice with sizable loans. Some call provisions even give an out to the lending institution in that they do not have to renew the loan but can demand for the outstanding balance to be paid in full. "So what?", you might ask. Consider this- you have a loan that was issued by a healthy lender under agreed upon terms that worked for the borrower. Now you have to re-negotiate the loan after a certain period of time, but your lender is now in dire financial straits. If, and that is a big if, you can re-negotiate the loan, the terms may not be as favorable. In fact, they may not be workable at all for the economics surrounding your hockey club. Well, you say, that's fine. I will just find another lender to work with me. In today's economic and lending environment, that is much easier said than done. The potential for an owner, or owners, is to face a financial doomsday scenario- unable to refinance at agreeable terms or find another lender to step in and take over the debt. As well, imagine, if an owner is trying to sell an NHL franchise in today's market. Financing that sale for a new buyer is going to be difficult, if not impossible, and their are very few owners that have the financial horsepower to write a check for most sports franchises.

The effects of this situation with CIT, and with lending to the sports world in general, can be devastating. Team owners could be faced with finding alternative sources of financing, which I believe will be difficult. Many teams use lines of credit to fund short term operating shortfalls and cash flow needs, and will be pinched if those dry up, forcing an owner to pony up more persoanl cash (if possible). Term loans that are re-negotiated at higher rates or less than favorable terms could force teams to divert operating revenue to debt service. That operating revenue is used from everything from funding payroll to operating an arena. Quality of the product on ice and the fan experience could suffer. And in the current environment, franchise values could fall. The market value of anything is only what a willing buyer will (and can) pay. It is the ability to pay that will be in question. Remember, I said that there are very few potential team owners that have the ability to write a check for a franchise. Most rely on some form of financing, and with few lenders willing to fund these purchases, values will ultimately fall.

There is no doubt the financial landscape has changed. The impact of those changes will not be positive and will take years to play out. It remains to be seen how these changes will impact the NHL and the sports world.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The free agent frenzy has subsided and now teams focus not only on filling out their rosters, but also on salary cap management. The cap for the upcoming season will be $56,800,000 and the minimum payroll for any club in the 2009-10 season will be $40,800,00. Now that some teams have committed huge dollars to free agents, the focus is on how teams currently stack up against the cap. Currently, three teams are over the cap for the upcoming season:

Chicago $4,559,374 over the cap

Ottawa $1,954,999 over the cap

Detroit $ 578,989 over the cap

Chicago has received the most publicity for their cap problems. New GM Stan Bowman must deal with the sizable contracts of Cristobel Huet and Brian Campbell as well as prepare to negotiate new contracts at the end of next season for RFA's Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane. The Hawks would probably be very willing to unload Campbell and his $7.1MM cap hit, but it will be difficult to find a team willing to take on that salary at this time. Ottawa continues to try to deal the disgruntled Danny Heatley, but his $7.5MM cap hit is daunting to most teams.

A general manager's job is complicated by the fact that he must not only build a roster for today, but also have room to sign young talent in their system as well as players that can plug holes in the roster. Philosophically, a team can make dramatic roster moves and attempt to win a Cup right now, as Chicago is apparently attempting. The history of the NHL is littered with teams that have tried that approach and failed. The other tack is to build a solid core of players that are under contract for several years and add any necessary pieces through trades and free agency. The second approach is not flashy, but is fiscally sound and certainly makes cap management simpler as well as providing the ability to keep the talent that is in the system. This is the approach the Predators have used for the majority of their existence.

Interestingly, much of the discussion during the recent free agent signing period was the effect that a player would have on the cap and less the attributes the player brought to the team. This is testimony to the necessity of managing the cap properly and the potential for teams to put themselves in a desperate roster situation should they not do so. The importance of this fact is emphasized by the fact that each NHL club has someone on staff that is dedicated to managing the cap, whether it is the GM or someone in the front office. From a long term perspective, the cap is expected to fall after the upcoming season, so the commitment to sizable long term contracts today can have an even greater negative impact in future seasons. This makes the management of the cap not a season to season process, but one that has to look ahead over several seasons.

Currently, the Preds have 17 players under contract with a total cap payroll of $39,625,833. The Preds also have the largest amount of free cap space, with $17,174,167 available. There is no doubt the Preds need additional scoring, and many in Pred nation have desired the team to go after a proven free agent to bolster the offense. So far that hasn't happened. As much as I would like the Preds to pursue this course, I would not expect them to deviate from their philosophy. As we look to the upcoming season, this means that the talent on the roster has to produce and some of the young guys have to step in to productive roles with the big club. Over the short term, this can be frustrating. Over the long term, provided the talent in the system produces, this can be healthy. While it doesn't energize the fan base, it certainly makes sound financial sense for a team like the Predators.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Business Must Be Good

In these dire economic times that we all face, many are glad to just be employed, much less get a raise of any great substance. If, however, you are the Commissioner of the NHL, not only is a raise forthcoming, but it is an increase of 27%. According to Tripp Mickle of the Sports Business Journal, Commissioner Gary Bettman received $4,197,694 in compensation from the League and $2,911,550 in compensation form the League's business arm, NHL Enterprises, for total compensation of $7,109,244. This is acording to the latest tax filings of the League.

How does Bettman's salary compare to to other league commissioners? Again, according to Sports Business Journal:

Bud Selig Major League Baseball $18.35 million

Roger Goddell National Football League 10.90 million

David Stern National Basketball Association 10.00 million (estimated)

Tim Finchem Pro Golfers Association 4.80 million

As a percentage of gross league revenues of $2.5 billion, Bettman's salary is .28% of revenues. By contrast, Roger Goodell's salary is .16% of the NFL's gross revenue of $6.5 billion. That comparison may be apples to oranges as Bettman and the NHL face a tougher sale for their game than does Goodell and the NFL, and that point can be argued either way. Perhaps the better way to look at this is to compare Bettman's percentage increase with the corresponding increase in League revenues for the same period. The League has touted increases in attendance and revenue from all sources over the past season. According to the SBJ article, net revenues for the NHL increased 14.9%, to $74.27MM. Most of the increase in revenue was membership dues paid by the existing 30 franchises ($56MM). While the growth numbers for the NHL have been very good, one must keep in mind that the growth of the game is coming off an incredibly small base, so those numbers are (hopefully) going to look good for a while.

Bettman's salary has increased 88% since the year before the lockout, and average of of 29.3% per annum. Most of us live with pay related to performance, and looking at revenue numbers alone, it can be argued that this is not the case of the NHL Commissioner. However, one can argue that Bettman has earned his compensation by maintaining franchise stability ( a tap of the stick to the Commish from fans in Pittsburgh, Nashville, and hopefully Phoenix) and by growing the game after the disasterous 2004-5 lockout year when the League was virtually on life support. All of these considerations have merit and factor in to the compensation decision. Apparently, Bettman's bosses, the owners, are pleased with his performance.

The intent here is not to bash the Commissioner over his salary. I am firmly in the camp that says one should have no limits on legally earned compensation. The question becomes, in my mind, is there a connection- or should there be a connection- between the compensation of the League executives and the growth rate of the League's revenue? And perhaps most importantly, will the compensation of League executives become an issue for the NHLPA during the negotiation of the next collective bargaining agreement?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When The Game Ends

Athletes are different. There is the obvious physical difference that elite athletes possess, the result of long hours of training and top level coaching. To reach the pinnacle of any sport requires the physical sacrifice of training lengthy and arduous hours and countless sessions with coaches. The payoff for all this effort is a chance to step on a field or skate onto a rink and play a game at a level that only a few can. A professional athlete is handsomely compensated for reaching the acme of his profession, but the compensation is not only monetary, but in the adulation of the fans that is lavished on their heroes. Anyone that has competed at any level in any sport knows the rush that comes from the approval of your fans. It is intoxicating, not only during the heat of competition, but in your daily life. For a professional athlete, the attention is lavish and constant, especially if you are a high profile player.

From an early age, great athletes are treated differently. Their physical prowess causes them to stand out. They are told they are different. They are treated deferentially in high school, and this treatment only becomes greater at the college level. Throughout their life, they have a different track than the average person, with greater attention lavished on them. At the professional level, the attention is overwhelming. Professional teams make a concerted effort to take care of their players and their needs. From nutritional counseling to financial planning to personal appearances, teams work to meet the needs of their players. Combine that with the efforts of a player's agent, and in many cases an entourage of advisors, and a majority of the needs, and wants, of an athlete are met by third parties. All this attention to the details of an athletes personal life as well as their professional life by outside parties has the unintended consequence of oftentimes shielding them from the consequences of their actions. In some cases, the actions of a collegiate or professional athlete are overlooked or mitigated by the school or team, at least until the behavior becomes so egregious that it must be faced.

So what happens when an athlete no longer is lacing up the skates or stepping on to the football field or the court? All those years of having someone manage your off field activities changes dramatically. The attention wanes, the lavish treatment that was so intertwined in their personal life because of their professional life diminishes significantly, if not altogether disappears. In many respects, the athlete is now on their own. Decisions are now made outside the confines of the team, and perhaps even an agent or advisors. And one of the immutable laws of life is that decisions, and actions, have consequences.

Does the deferential treatment many athletes receive do more harm than good? I'm spending a great deal of time these days with my children talking about decisions, actions, and consequences. Is this a lesson that has been lost on many athletes because of the way they have been treated through the years? As I write this, the tragic death of former Titans quarterback Steve McNair is fresh on our minds. I do not write this to condemn Steve, but to ask the question "Where is the personal accountability?" Athletes in all team sports talk about being accountable to one another- for their workouts or for their play in the arena of competition. Where is the accountability for life, and the ability to discern the consequences of the choices that can be made? And yes, I know there are societal, socio-economic factors, and the personal history of each individual involved. Nevertheless, this does not negate personal responsibility and ownership of one's actions. Perhaps the better questions are "Are you ready to be accountable?" "Do you understand you are responsible for your actions?"

I'm not moralizing here. Goodness knows I've made more than my share of stupid decisions, often without properly considering the consequences of my choices. And I know I'm speaking in broad generalities here- not every athlete that rises to the pinnacle of their profession is ill equipped to make good life choices. As we survey the tragic loss of two lives and the wreckage of two families because of these choices made, I am asking if an unacceptable degree of failure hasn't been built in to the system because of the way many athletes are treated throughout their athletic life?

The Total Fan Experience

The NHL, perhaps more than any professional sports league, prides itself on the in arena fan experience. It is one thing to tout the game experience, but can it be measured? ESPN The Magazine has just completed their 7th Annual Ultimate Standings, ranking all franchises in the NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB on the following criteria:

Bang For The Buck (BNG)- Wins during the past three years (regular and post season) per revenue directly from fans.

Fan Relations (FRL)- Openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches, and management.

Ownership (OWN)- Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community

Affordability (AFF)- Price of tickets, parking, and concessions.

Stadium Experience (STX)- Quality of the arena and game day promotions as well as the friendliness of the environment.

Players (PLA)- Effort on the field and likability off it.

Coaching (CCH)- Strength of off field leadership.

Title Track (TTR)- Championships won or expected in the lifetime of current fans.

There are 122 professional sports teams in the four major professional sports leagues. The Tennessee Titans of the NFL ranked 15th overall; the Nashville Predators ranked 37th overall using these criteria. In the NHL, the Predators ranked 11th in the 30 team league- a very good showing for this young franchise. The 30 teams in the NHL ranked as follows:

1. Carolina Hurricanes

2. Detroit Red Wings

3. Washington Capitals

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

5. St. Louis Blues

6. Anaheim Ducks

7. Chicago Blackhawks

8. Dallas Stars

9. Columbus Blue Jackets

10. San Jose Sharks

11. Nashville Predators

12. New Jersey Devils

13. Ottawa Senators

14. Philadelphia Flyers

15. Boston Bruins

16. Calgary Flames

17. Buffalo Sabres

18. Minnesota Wild

19. Colorado Avalanche

20. Vancouver Canucks

21. Tampa Bay Lightning

22. Phoenix Coyotes

23. Florida Panthers

24. New York Rangers

25. Los Angeles Kings

26. Montreal Canadiens

27. Edmonton Oilers

28. Atlanta Thrashers

29. New york Islanders

30. Toronto Maple Leafs

Taking a look at the Predators, here is how the stack up according to their score for each rating category (the number accompanying each category is their rank in comparison to all teams in all leagues):

BNG: 59

FRL: 15

OWN: 61

AFF: 16

STX: 30

PLA: 36

CCH: 39

TTR: 85

The Preds rank very high in fan relations, and anyone that has had contact with the staff at a Predators game knows that this ranking is well deserved. They also rank high in the stadium experience, with only 8 NHL teams ranking higher. Growing the game in a "non-traditional" market requires a high level of customer service and an exceptional game experience, and the Preds are very successful in both areas. Anyone that has had the experience of a game in the Sommet Center knows that it is a visual, entertaining event for the entire family. A great arena experience will only carry a team so far, however, and the on-ice product has to be successful as well. Ten NHL teams rank ahead of the Predators in the category of Players- effort and likability. Eight NHL teams rank ahead of the Predators in Coaching- strength of off field (or ice) leadership. The Predator players are known to be competitive on the ice- not the most talented, but one of the hardest working teams in the NHL. The players are also known to be good citizens, active in the community in many charitable causes and contributors to the quality of life we enjoy here in Nashville. The strength of the Predators through the years has been Coach Barry Trotz and the coaching staff, currently assistant coaches Peter Horachek, Brent Peterson, and Robert Bouchard. This coaching staff has done a marvelous job of squeezing every drop of talent out of the players on the ice, and the stability of the staff is critical to the success of the team. The area that hurt the Preds in the overall rankings was the Title Track- championships won or expected in the lifetime of the current fans. Only six teams ranked lower in the NHL than the Preds, and this is indicative of our lack of playoff success with the team failing in four attempts to get past the first round of the playoffs. Finally, Ownership- loyalty to core players and local community were ranked 20th out of 30 NHL teams. I can only guess that this is due to the recent ownership changes and the uncertainty of the ownership of the disgraced "Boots" del Biaggio's 27% interest that is currently in question. I can speak for all of Pred nation in saying that we are grateful for local ownership and their commitment to the Nashville market.

These are obviously subjective variables, but they are variables that have an impact on every fan that crosses through the turnstile to watch a sporting event. They are variables that management has to focus upon because fans are becoming even more discriminating in the expenditure of their sports and entertainment dollars. The focus becomes more intense for a franchise that is establishing roots in a relatively new market. The Predators have shown they can be successful in entertaining the fans and providing a great game experience and a credible on ice product. They have to build on what works, both on and off the ice, to continue to be successful.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celebrating Freedom

On our nation's birthday, we enjoy the freedom to spend time with family, picnic, watch fireworks, or whatever we choose to do. One of the greatest blessings of this great nation is that we have this freedom. Freedom won with blood and sacrifice by men and women of untold valor. Freedom that comes at a great price to win and preserve. On this day of celebration, the sincerest gratitude of a grateful nation is extended to those that have sacrificed time away from family, endured hardships, and even made the greatest sacrifice so that we may enjoy our freedoms. It is through your sacrifice that we are a great nation, a city on a hill, a beacon of freedom to the world. Our freedoms are not free, and we honor those that have preserved the freedom we enjoy on this day. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Preds Re-Sign Sully

There is a sound of great rejoicing in Pred Nation as the Nashville Predators announced that unrestricted free agent Steve Sullivan had been re-signed to a two year contract for $3.75MM per year. Sully had made known his desire to stay in Nashville if at all possible, stating that he liked the team and his family loved the area. He had also made known that he had to do what was necessary to secure his family's financial well being. In the twilight of his career, this is very understandable. Sully and his agent certainly tested the free agent waters, and fortunately for the Preds and their fans, he found the water in Nashville to be just fine. I'm certain that Sully's medical history was a factor in his market value, and when the offers were evaluated, he felt that he was being fairly compensated by the Preds offer. Kudos to David Poile for getting this deal done. And kudos to the best fans in the NHL for making Nashville an exciting and competitive environment. This is a major positive for the offensively challenged Preds and bodes well for this team for the coming season.

Preds Sign Joel Ward

The Predators re-signed free agent Joel Ward to a 2 year, $3MM contract today. Aside from the fact that I like Wardo as a person and a player and think this is a good signing for the Preds, I am curious as to how these negotiations went between the player and the club. GM David Poile earlier intimated that Ward's asking price of $1.5MM per year, triple his salary last season, was not going to happen from the club. Wadda ya know? It did.

Now if we can only come to terms with Sully.