Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Balsille, NHL Bids For Coyotes Rejected

There was (finally!) a ruling today on the bids for the Phoenix Coyotes in Judge Redfield Baum's bankruptcy court. The court rejected, with prejudice, the bid of Jim Balsille and PSE for the Coyotes. The court also rejected the bid from the NHL for the franchise. There is a substantive difference, however, in the ruling that disqualified the bids, and it appears that the court has shut out Balsillie in his effort to acquire the ailing franchise.

Judge Baum ruled that PSE cannot ignore the constitution and by-laws of the NHL in its attempt to gain control of the franchise and move it to Hamilton. Specifically, the PSE bid contended two sections of the bankruptcy code should be set aside to allow the sale and relocation of the franchise. The first, Section 365, requires that a buyer purchasing a business out of bankruptcy must honor all executory, valid contracts that were in place at the time of the bankruptcy filing. PSE wanted to disavow all existing contracts, including the lease agreement with the City of Glendale for Arena. This meant that all valid contracts would have been voided should PSE have won the bid, and in essence, they could walk away from all contractual obligations.

The second section of the code, Section 363, requires that the interest of the representatives of the estate, in this case the NHL and the City of Glendale, must have their interest protected if the assets that are sold are in dispute. Simply put, if Balsillie were to purchase the Coyotes, there must be some reasonable assurance to the NHL and the City of Glendale that their financial interests would be protected and reasonably recoverable if a final ruling went against PSE. Judge Baum ruled, correctly, that PSE had no way to protect these interests, especially if the Coyotes were relocated to Hamilton. PSE claimed in a subsequent filing that the relocation fee paid to the NHL would provide that protection. The court ruled that it would not. Quoting from the ruling by judge Baum, "Typically, the proceeds of sale are held subject to the disputed interest and then distributed as dictated by the resolution of the dispute; such procedures preserve all parties rights by simply transferring interests from property to dollars that represent its value. ...The court does not agree with PSE's assertion that the payment of a relocation fee adequately protects the claimed interest of the NHL."

Furthermore, the court ruled that the NHL has three rights in the case that are at issue: the right to admit only new members who meet its written requirements; the right to control where their members play hockey games; and the right to a relocation fee when a member relocates to a new site. The court held that it could not adequately protect the NHL's membership selection right and control over location right if the court allowed the sale of the franchise to PSE and its subsequent relocation.

Again, quoting from the ruling, "In summary, the clear statutory statement in Section 363(e) requires that the court 'shall prohibit' any sale where the interests sought to be removed by the proposed sale free and clear of such interests, cannot be adequately protected. This conclusion effectively is the end for the efforts of PSE, Balsillie, Moyes, and the Coyotes to force a sale and relocation of the hockey team based upon the claimed powers in Section 363(f)(4) of the Code; i.e., those efforts and related motions are denied with prejudice."

The NHL's bid was also denied, but without prejudice by the court. The basis of that denial was the fact that the NHL was desiring to pay all unsecured creditors with the exception of Jerry Moyes, the current owner, and Wayne Gretzky. The NHL had claimed that by so doing, it was maintaining the "good will" of the team. In essence, the NHL was taking the stance that Moyes and Gretzky were not legitimate creditors. The court stated that the bankruptcy code requires that all creditors be treated fairly and equitably. The court ruled that the NHL's stance was ambiguous and potentially discriminatory, and that it would be "inherently unjust" for the court to disallow consideration of their claims. Therefore, the NHL's bid was dismissed "without prejudice". The court, in essence, put the puck back on the NHL's end of the ice to restructure their bid, and will allow them to resubmit their bid, should they chose to do so.

The significance of dismissing Balsillie's and PSE's bid "with prejudice" is simply this: they are barred from re-submitting a bid in this case. Much has been written by The View and others about the convoluted bid by Balsillie, trying to come in through the so called "side door" rather than playing by the rules established by the League. The bankruptcy of the Coyotes was used as an attempt to circumvent the constitution and by-laws of the NHL and the ownership approval process. The court struck down this tactic and preserved the right of a sports league, in this case the NHL, to set its rules of membership and operation. This is a major victory not only for the NHL, but for all of professional sports and the ability of those leagues to determine their method of operation of their respective leagues.

It is now up to the NHL to decide if the will resubmit a bid, one that respects the rights of all creditors- even those that opposed them in court. I would expect that this will occur in the very near future. And I would expect that we have not heard the last of Jim Balsillie and his attempt to acquire a franchise in the NHL.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Much has been made of the low attendance and lack of fan support at the Phoenix Coyotes preseason games as well as the fact that the team is selling lower bowl tickets for $10 for the home opener. Critics point to this as another reason that the Desert Dogs no longer belong in Phoenix and should be relocated. Those critics should back off. This team has been through hell this past 4 months, with the owner filing bankruptcy and colluding with Jim Balsillie to sell to him the team and move it to Canada. It is no wonder that attendance is low and that season ticket sales are abysmal. One cannot expect fans and sponsors to commit to a team that has been in this turmoil and is enduring a relocation attempt. There are legitimate criticisms of the way the Coyotes have been run, but citing the current low attendance as a reason to move the team is specious.

I have never seen the Catskill Mountains, but I have seen them kill mice.

Interesting facts from the Congressional Budget Office: 40% of the populace in the United States pays NO income tax. The top 1% of all taxpayers pay 30% of all federal income taxes. The top 20% of all wage earners pay 69% of all tax revenues to the federal government. The next time a politician tells us that he wants to tax the rich, I think the appropriate answer is that you are doing a pretty good job of it.

My wife is always complaining that I don't listen to her. Or something like that.

This continues to be a dangerous world. Recent arrests in the U.S. foiled major terrorists plots on our soil, and as more information is gathered, it appears that this plot was designed to create widespread destruction and loss of life within our own borders. All of us need to understand this: the world is, and will continue to be, and dangerous place, and there are those that would do us harm. Appeasement of these enemies does not work now, nor has it ever. And because of that, I am thankful that we have brave men and women in our military and law enforcement ranks that are willing to defend us and our freedoms.

Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.

Continued well wishes to Cathy Oakes, wife of our friend Buddy Oakes, for a return to good health.

Stop, drop, and roll doesn't work in hell.

And that , my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Predators Foundation Gears Up For Another Season of Good Works

The Predators Foundation, the charitable arm of the Nashville Predators, is a positive force for good in our community. The Foundation raises funds to distribute to organizations that better the quality of life in our community, and their generosity has touched many Nashvillians and many worthy organizations. Just as the team is gearing up for another season, so is the Foundation. The first opportunity of the season for fans to participate in the community outreach of the Foundation will occur at Saturday's preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes. School supplies will be collected at the doors and will be distributed by the Foundation and the LP Pencil Box to schools that are in need of supplies. It may not seem like much to bring a box of pencils or crayons, or packages of paper, but these supplies are in great demand in the school system, and your contribution will mean that school children in need will have adequate material. Donors are not only doing good for the community and our children, but get the added bonus of a discount ticket voucher to a future Predators game.

The Foundation is a reflection of Predator fans- passionate and with a big heart. Through your support and the efforts of the Foundation, your community is made a better place, and we are made better people. Thanks to Foundation for their efforts to enrich the lives of others.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Labor Clouds Loom Large

Professional football is in full swing, the NHL preseason is underway, and fans of both sports are elated. There are clouds on the horizon that should cause all fans of their respective sports to take notice of the potential impending storm that is brewing. That storm that is building is potential labor unrest in 2011, when the collective bargaining agreements for all professional sports expire. Fans of their favorite sport would be wise to pay attention to moves that players unions and management are making today for an indication of what may occur in the very near future.

There are signs of contentiousness in every sport. The NBA has entered into strident negotiations with the the union representing the referees, and there is a great probability that the officials may be locked out at the start of the season, necessitating the use of replacements. Liz Mullen, writing in the latest edition of Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal, indicates that many NFL clubs are placing clauses in upper level executive contracts that are up for renewal that could either: reduce or terminate the contract with 20 days notice; reduce salary by 50% if a lockout continues for more than 90 days; or extend any retained executive's contract for another year at these terms if at least 8 NFL games are cancelled in 2011. You wonder why? The NFLPA has already been making noises about getting a bigger slice of the revenue pie and their posture toward the league has become more militant. Apparently, the NFL has a sense that the 2011 season could be in jeopardy.

The NHL Players Association recently fired Paul Kelly, their Director, for ostensibly reading private communications of the union. The unofficial complaint about Kelly was that he was to close to league management- too "comfortable" with Gary Bettman and others in the league office. I wasn't aware that being the Director of a Players Association in any sport required a combative and confrontational nature, but apparently it does for the NHLPA. Into the union vacuum has been thrust Buzz Hargrove, the former leader of the Canadian Auto Workers Union and a proponent of the "social unionism" movement. Social unionism is a movement that integrates workers, trade unions, and the labor movement into coalitions for social and economic justice (according to a paper published by the American Sociological Association). Proponents of social unionism have organized labor and initiated labor actions around certain social issues, such as fair housing and adequate wages, and used labor actions to move toward their goals. While it is unknown if Hargrove will get the Director's job (he has initially said he doesn't want it), I am certain that he and his philosophical leanings will exert significant influence on the direction of the NHLPA.

The NHLPA, as will player's unions in all sports, will be seeking a larger slice of revenue as well as some other significant changes. For the NHL, I would expect that Olympic participation will continue to be a point of contention and negotiation. While most owners worry about the risk to their athletes from participating in the Olympics and would rather avoid it altogether, most NHL players decidedly want the opportunity to represent their country. The salary escrow will be another point of negotiation between labor and management, and there are others. These are legitimate issues to be negotiated but it appears the tenor of the negotiations will trend toward confrontational.

Negotiations in all of these sports will be framed against a weak economy and potentially declining sponsorship and ticket revenue. Will management in all the sports be inclined to lock out the players and risk a season- or more? Will the players become strident in their demands and be willing to walk out? Hockey fans have seen how that scenario has played out, and it's not fun or pretty. Management in all sports are starting to stake out their positions; players and their unions are doing the same. The storm clouds are on the horizon. The question is, how severe will this storm be?

Friday, September 18, 2009

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

I took my son to the preseason game against Atlanta last night. Just to walk in the arena and see that sheet of ice and the players gliding through the pre-skate made me realize how much I missed the game. When I looked over at my son and saw the joy on his face to be back at a game, I recalled David Freeman's words. In his "Skate of the Union" comments this summer, he said that the game in Nashville was putting down deep roots, and that the generation of children that have grown up watching the Predators will be the rock solid fan base of the future. And he is right.

I bought a shampoo that promised me extra body. So far, I've gained four pounds.

Last week, I posted about the dispute between the U.S. and Canada regarding the charter flights of Canadian hockey teams that flew from one U.S. city to another, a practice called cabotage. It appeared that the current administration was going to strictly enforce a rule that had not been enforced for years, which would have created havoc with the travel arrangements for these hockey clubs in the upcoming season. Fortunately, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama have reached an agreement in principal to allow these charter flights to operate normally. This was an obstacle that needed to be overcome before the start of the season, and fortunately for teams and their fans, this has occurred.

If we are what we eat, then I'm fast, cheap, and easy.

Our thoughts and prayers continue with Cathy Oakes, wife of Buddy Oakes, our friend and Preds on the Glass blogger. According to Buddy, it fortunately appears that Cathy does not have an issue with her heart. However, doctors are still trying to determine the cause of her chest pains and she is undergoing continued tests. Continue to send your best wishes to Cathy and to Buddy. We hope for a determination of what is causing her problem and for a speedy recovery.

I get plenty enough exercise pushing my luck.

I will be blogging about the Predators at a new website started by long time hockey writer and blogger, B.D. Gallof. The site is Hockey Independent and can be found at . Writers are covering all 30 teams and League issues as well. I am honored to participate and I invite you to take a look.

I have a hot dog philosophy of life- relish today and ketchup tomorrow.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rogues, Rascals, and the Lessons Learned

I was privileged to speak yesterday to the Nashville Chapter of the Institute of Internal Audit about the Madoff fraud and its effect on investors. The following is an excerpt of a portion of that speech.

There were several components to the fraud that Madoff perpetrated, and these components or characteristics are present in many Ponzi schemes and frauds. The first is that Madoff used his affinity with certain groups to gain trust and access. Madoff played upon his Jewish heritage to gain access to members of his synagogue, to the Jewish Country Club of Palm Beach, and Yeshiva University to name a few institutions. He was a significant donor to numerous charitable causes, which not only gave him access, oftentimes gaining a position as a board member, but created the connection, the affinity, with that enterprise. He also used his geographic domain to create affinity with those he called neighbors. Whether it was from his Manhattan penthouse, his beachfront home in the Hamptons, his Palm Beach home, or his villa in France, Madoff lived in an exclusive world and courted those that inhabited that same world.

The strong affinity that investors had with Madoff broke down their natural wariness. "He's one of us" leads one to forgo the necessary verification of credentials and the accounting of assets. In the most vulnerable area of finances, people and institutions that should have known better, yet they let down their guard. Because "he's one of us". Unfortunately, the similarity with his victims was not on shared values, but on superficial details such as where he lived or funds that he was able to contribute to worthy causes. In essence, Madoff bought access and created an affinity with investors through a well crafted facade.

The second component of Madoff's strategy was essential to the longevity of the fraud, and that was the opacity of his operation. There was not a bit of transparency about what happened in Madoff Securities. Once an investors money disappeared into the firm, it truly disappeared. Clients were not allowed access to their accounts and the only statements they received were from Madoff's firm generated by Madoff's staff. Once funds were invested, clients relied solely on Madoff Securities to verify positions in their portfolio and the returns they were receiving. This situation perpetuated the fraud by allowing Madoff to show consistent returns, averaging 10% per annum, regardless of market conditions. Investors were duped into believing they were doing well because of the inability to actually verify the performance of their account.

Integral to the fraud was the lack of outside confirmation of the actual investments that were purportedly made on behalf of the investors. This was the final component of the fraud that Madoff committed. The lack of third party confirmation, such as by an independent custodian of the assets, allowed Madoff to report falsified positions in portfolios and fake returns. Investors with Madoff believed they held actual positions in his funds when in fact their investments were used to support the lavish lifestyle Madoff enjoyed. Without this component, the fraud would have never occurred.

In making this speech, I realized that many of the characteristics of a con like Madoff have been present in some of the past owners in the NHL. Predator fans can only look at former part owner Boots del Biaggio to see that he used his connections with those in the hockey world to gain access to the highest levels of the league and gain their trust (affinity). Boots parlayed his relationship with Mario Lemieux, Luc Robataille, and others to gain access and trust of Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors. His personal finances were obscured by his venture capital efforts which did not require public disclosure (lack of transparency). As his financial situation imploded, it was revealed that his certified financial statements that were presented to the league were fictitious (lack of confirmation). Boots, as have other disreputable owners, fit the profile of a con.

The league states in its constitution and by-laws that any potential owner will be subject to a vetting process. That process, however, is not spelled out. One can only hope that the league, like regulators in the securities industry, have learned the painful lessons that these rogues teach. Better and more thorough examination will hopefully prevent fraud and the painful fallout in both arenas.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My View

Some random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Cabotage. No, it's not blowing up your neighbor's cabbage patch. If you haven't heard of that word, hockey fans, you soon will. Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country. And, warped View, your point is...? The Airline Pilots Association, the pilot's union in the U.S., has petitioned the Department of Transportation to prohibit Air Canada, the main charter airline for Canadian hockey teams, from the practice of cabotage. Simply put, the APA claims that Air Canada is flying in violation of federal DOT rules which state that a foreign charter may fly to one city inside the U.S. only. The charter is then to fly back out of the country and not to another U.S. destination. This prohibition against cabotage by a foreign charter was relaxed under the Bush administration. The current administration has chosen to strictly enforce the rule. As a result of this, Air Canada has sued the U.S. Department of Transportation, but at the moment will be unable to fly Canadian hockey teams from one U.S. city to another for a game. Should the ruling stand, air travel for Canadian teams will be exponentially complicated, and I would expect a similar action by the Canadian Transportation Authority toward U.S. charters flying in to Canada. This has obviously added strain to the relationship between the U.S. and Canada, completely fouls up team travel arrangements, and frankly, is just plain silly.

I think it's bad luck to be superstitious.

Regarding the last point about cabotage and the dispute over flying hockey teams from Canada around the U.S.- can you imagine how difficult a four game swing across the Central Division will be for a team like, say, Edmonton if they have to fly back into Canada after each game? Not only are the physical demands on the players increased, but each team has an enormous increase in friction costs. What are friction costs? Warning: economic content ahead. Friction costs are the costs that are incidental to the production of a product or the rendering of a service. These may be things like sales commissions or taxes, for example. The friction costs that the team will incur are the greater travel expenses for the extra miles flown- insurance, fuel, and flight crews, to name a few. And what happens, dear reader, when the producer of a product or the provider of a service incur greater costs? Those costs are passed along to the end user. That's you and me. This could have significant bearing on team profitability and in turn, the price we pay for our tickets. Keep your eye on this dispute.

I have always wanted to be the last man on earth just to see if all those women were lying to me.

I had an anonymous comment from a post in last week's "My View" that said they could no longer read my blog because of my political view on nationalized healthcare. A couple of thoughts about this. I am decidedly against nationalized healthcare. I do not believe for a moment that outcomes will improve, that the system will be efficient, or that the costs will be reasonable. That's my opinion. There are others that are equally convinced that this is an absolute necessity, and that is fine with me. I can respect the opposing viewpoint, and if I really listen, can glean some knowledge from it. The problem that we continue to face as a nation is that we are losing our ability to dialogue honestly and effectively with each other about these intractable problems. Instead of staking out a position for political purposes or to grab power, we should be working together to come up with viable solutions. I do not want to see someone suffer for lack of adequate access to healthcare or insurance coverage. I also do not want to see our economy wrecked by the heavy fist of government control. Disagree with me all you want, but talk to me about what you believe. We may both learn something.

I am planning to be more spontaneous in the future.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Generous Hearts Honor a Coach and a Worthy Cause

Coach Brent Peterson held his second annual Peterson Foundation for Parkinson's dinner and golf tournament on September 1st and 2nd to raise money for Parkinson's research in Middle Tennessee. There was an excellent turnout for the dinner and the golf tournament was sold out. I had a chance to speak to Coach Peterson today, and he told me that the Foundation raised over $65,000 from this event. He said he was overwhelmed at the response of the community, and that the proceeds more than doubled the amount he raised last year.

As Pred fans know, Brent suffers from Parkinson's, and has courageously faced the disease and continues to coach effectively. The response of the Predator nation to this call was outstanding, and is a reflection of the respect that we have for Brent and the desire to make headway against this insidious disease. Thanks to all who participated and supported this worthy cause and this exceptional coach and individual. And thanks to you, Brent, for your courage and leadership in this fight to find a cure.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Predators Pre-Season Preview

Preseason hockey is upon us, and the sound of great rejoicing is heard throughout the land as hockey fans eagerly await the beginning of the season. Preseason is a time of hope and great expectations for all teams as fans speculate on what the final roster will be and the potential of their favorite team. To that end, the View will offer his view on the Predators and the upcoming season.


Marcel Goc, Ben Guite, Peter Olvecky, Ben Eaves


Greg Zanon, Vern Fiddler, Radek Bonk, Scott Nichol, Ville Koistinen, Jed Ortmeyer, Drew MacIntyre, Antii Pihlstrom

Returning Free Agents

Steve Sullivan, Joel Ward

The big signings for the Preds during free agency were Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward. Sully brings offense to a team that desperately needs scoring, and his potential loss to free agency would have been devastating to the Preds. The big issue for Sully is to stay healthy for the duration of the season. Joel Ward had a breakout season last year, his first full season in the NHL, and the Preds will count on Wardo building on this past season. Marcel Goc signed a two year, two way deal with the hope of jump starting what was a disappointing tenure with the San Jose Sharks. He brings size and speed to the linup, and hopefully will discover a scoring touch with the Preds. Peter Olvecky played 31 games last season as a rookie with Minnesota, tallying 2 goals and 5 assists. Ben Guite played the last three seasons with Colorado and brings grit and an occasional scoring touch to the lineup. Ben Eaves is a 27 year old, 5'8", 180 lb. center that was the Pittsburgh Penguins fourth round draft pick in the 2001 entry draft, but has yet to crack an NHL lineup. He has played the last two years in Finland.

Perhaps the biggest loss for the Predators was blueliner Greg Zanon. The veteran D-man signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Wild. His experience on the blueline and his shot blocking capability will be missed by the Preds. Nichol, Bonk, and Fiddler provided depth and penalty killing capabilites, and Bonk will be missed in the face off circle. Ortmeyer was injured and missed the past season, and Koistinen was a talented but very erratic D-man that never produced to his potential.


Goaltending will be a strength for the Predators. Pekka Rinne enters the season as the putative number one goalie, having established himself as the starter midway of the past season. Dan Ellis, who started the past season as the number one goalie, will challenge for the starter's role, and is a solid goalie that did not get much support from his D this past season. I expect Dan to push Pekka, and this should make both goalies better. Pekka has to avoid the "sophomore slump" that has victimized some young goalies that have assumed the starter's mantle. Pekka is very athletic, moves well, and uses his size in the net to his advantage. Pekka plays a good positional game and is not predictable in the net, and has one of the best glove hands in the league.

Waiting in the wings will be Chet Pickard and Mark Dekanich, both of which are expected to start the season in Milwaukee, the Preds AHL affiliate. Pickard shows great promise, and will challenge for a roster spot with the Preds in the near future. Should he prove himself and show he is ready to make the jump, Dan Ellis could be offered in a trade later this year as this is Dan's final year of his contract with the Preds.


When considering the Predators D, the conversation starts with Shea Weber. Shea is coming off an All Star season this past year. Weber is a beast on defense that plays with a snarl and is a physical force. Webs is strong, reads the play well, and plays good positional defense. Last season, he tallied 20 goals and 33 assists, and his booming slapshot is one of the hardest in the league. The Preds blueline is bolstered by Ryan Suter and Dan Hamhuis, young players that have developed into top flight defensemen. Suter has quietly become a very solid D-man that plays a very intelligent game and can score. Hamhuis is a quiet performer that logs quality minutes every game. He doesn't get the press that Weber does, but plays a very fundamentally sound game.

The concern for the Preds behind these three is the experience level of the players that will round out the D corp. Kevin Klein logged his first full season in the NHL last year and was paired with Greg Zanon for most of the season. Hopefully, Kleiner learned from this experience and picked up pointers from the veteran as he will be called upon to take a bigger role this season. Klein has the tools and is a good puck handler, and will need to embrace the role he is called to play. The remaining spots on the blueline are up for grabs, and in the mix will be Alexander Sulzer, Cody Franson, Teemu Laakso, and possibly Jonathan Blum. Sulzer played in two games this past season before suffering a seperated shoulder against Vancouver. He shows the potential to earn a roster spot as he plays an intelligent game, moves the puck well, and can be physical. Cody Franson has the tools to be an NHL defenseman, possessing great size (6'4". 205 lbs.) as well as a scoring touch. Last season, he registered 11 goals and 41 assists in 76 games for Milwaukee. Laakso was the Preds third round pick in the 2005 entry draft and played 41 games for Milwaukee last season. Blum was the Preds first round pick in the 2007 entry draft and has played for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Last season, he had 16 goals and 50 assists in 51 games. Blum is a fundamentally strong D-man that plays good positional defense, moves the puck well, and can score. The concern about him is his size. At 6'1" and 180 pounds, it is expected that the 20 year old will need to add some bulk to prepare for the rigors of an NHL season, but he is a young D-man that is on the cusp of making the roster.

Last season, the Preds were 13th in the league with 228 goals against. The young D will have to step up quickly for the Preds to maintain this level of play.


If the strength of this team is from the goal outward, then this area presents the greatest concern for Predator fans and is the weakest. The top line is set, with Jason Arnott (33-24-57) centering Steve Sullivan (11-21-32 in 41 games) and J.P. Dumont (16-49-65). This line has shown great chemistry and offensive pop, and I expect that to continue in the upcoming season. It is the other lines that the Preds will put on the ice that are in question. For the Predators to have a successful season and return to the playoffs, it is critical that the offensive production improve from the second line, and specifically Martin Erat and David Legwand. Last season, Marty had 17 goals and 33 assists; David had 20 goals and 22 assists. These two players in particular have to pick up the scoring and play to their potential, and head coach Barry Trotz has said as much in the off season. Marty and David are entering the prime of their NHL careers and have been rewarded with long term contracts by the club. It is now time for them to produce in a manner commensurate with their compensation. Additionally, the Preds will be looking for Joel Ward to improve on his 35 point production from last season.

There will be roster spots for the taking by some of the young players. Cal O'Reilly played 11 games last year for the Preds and showed some promise. Patric Hornqvist started the year with the Preds and was not as productive as hoped. The expectation is that the time up with the big club will give them a better understanding of what is necessary to compete and be productive at this level. Other young players expected to compete for a roster spot are Colin Wilson (I expect him to make the roster), Nick Spaling, and Mike Santorelli.

Last season, the Preds were 24th in goals scored with 207 goals; 13 additional goals would have tied the Preds with 7th place Columbus. The success of the upcoming season depends upon this team putting pucks in the net at even strength and improving the power play (26th in the NHL at a 15.7% success rate). Having a healthy Steve Sullivan for the full season will improve both numbers, but it is critical to have improved scoring from the second line and have younger players chip in with timely goals.


Barry Trotz is the only head coach in Predators history, and has built a reputation of getting the most out of the talent that he has. Trotzy is a solid coach with a capable staff in Peter Horachek, Brent Peterson, and video coach Robert Bouchard. This will be one of the younger squads that this team has iced, and it will be imperitive that Trotz and his staff do an excellent coaching job to keep this team in the mix in the Western Conference.


The Preds have 6 home games in October, 8 in November, and 6 in December. This young squad is going to have to be strong on the road early in the season or they could be in a significant hole. The Preds have to get confidence and consistency on the road, something they struggled with early last season. The positive in this is that the back end of the schedule is weighted toward home games. March will be a critical month as the Preds play 17 games because of the schedule compression resulting from the Olympic break.


This will be a young squad that will have to improve quickly and the vets are going to have to step up their play to have success and get back to the playoffs. Play in the early part of the schedule will determine if this team can get into position for a playoff run. I think the mix of young (albeit unproven) talent and veterans combined with a great locker room chemistry will bring success for this team. My view: 4th in the Central Division and 8th in the Western Conference

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My View

Some random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Good health is such a great blessing. Those that enjoy it can sometimes take it for granted, but life has a way of forcing its way back in to our consciousness and making us cognizant of our frailties. That happened this past week to the wife of Buddy Oakes, one of our good friends in the blogging community . Cathy, Buddy's wife, was rushed to the hospital Tuesday with what was thought to be serious heart problems. Fortunately, that was not the case, and Cathy is now home resting and recovering. Here's to a quick recovery, Cathy, and a return to good health.

Marriage is made in heaven. Then again, so are tornadoes.

My mother died several years ago, and in her last few weeks of life, she was given palliative care by her attending physician. Simply put, she was made comfortable and suffering was minimized because there was no legitimate hope for recovery. This type of care happens in numerous end of life events, and the single most important consideration that I and my family had in that situation was the trust in the doctor's judgement and competence in making a determination about the possibility of recovery for my mother. This occurred because of numerous conversations and interactions with the doctor. In London, the Daily Telegraph is reporting that the National Health Service (NHS), Great Britain's socialized medical service, has come under intense scrutiny for having wrongly judged some ill patients as being beyond recovery and having medical care withdrawn. These patients are put on palliative care- usually heavy sedation- until they pass away. Obviously, medical treatment for a patient that is in their last days and forecasting death is an inexact science. In my mother's last days, I was in constant communication with her doctor and caregivers. The great problem with socialized medicine like is proposed in this country is that the ability to determine an appropriate course of action with the doctor providing care is eliminated. Instead, a bureaucrat is interjected between the patient, the patient's family, and the doctor. Other nations have tried socialized medicine with at best less than optimal results and at worst horrific results. This is the most important thing to remember as we debate this issue, it does not work. Keep that in mind as the spinmeisters in the mainstream media try to sell the Democrat's agenda.

Do you ever get the feeling of deja moo? That's the feeling that you have heard this b.s. before.

2011 should be an interesting time in the sports world. That year will be, to my recollection, the only time that all four of the major professional sports will have the collective bargaining agreements with their players expire concurrently. Imagine for a moment if professional hockey, football, baseball, and basketball all went on strike simultaneously I will wait a moment while the guys reading this recover from their momentary fainting spell........ okay- back with me? In my opinion, the two sports that have the greatest potential for labor unrest are the National Hockey League (see my post from Wednesday) and the National Football League. The similarities between the two leagues are striking (pardon the pun). With the ouster of Paul Kelly as Director of the NHLPA earlier this week, there is a vacuum in leadership that will presumably be filled before negotiations start to really heat up between the players and management; the NFLPA has a relatively new Director, DeMaurice Smith, who was elected March 2009 after the death of long time Director Gene Upshaw. Both of these leagues have players associations that have indicated they want a bigger piece of the revenue pie and are starting to stake out some positions that are sure to be contentiously negotiated with the owners (as an aside, the President of the NFLPA is Kevin Mawae of the Titans). Fans of their respective sports should be paying attention to the rhetoric and posture on issues that these unions take for an indication of the type of sports world we will see in 2011.

I have not yet begun to procrastinate.

I hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend. Be safe.

And that's my view

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is the Kelly Firing a Sign of Union Militancy?

Mark Twain once famously said that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. Given the history of corruption inside the National Hockey League Players Association, one might say that the NHLPA falls into that same distinct class. The NHLPA continued its string of dubious decisions and actions by firing current NHLPA Director Paul Kelly at 3:30 in the morning on August 31st at the conclusion of a 7 hour board meeting. Kelly had been in the job of Executive Director less than two years, but had been praised as been very pragmatic about running the PA, passionate about the game, and a man of integrity. Kelly's critics said that he did not do enough to get to know the players and that he was too close to Commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy, Bill Daly.

The NHLPA has had a storied and corrupt history. The first head of the PA, Alan Eagleson, stole money from the players and the union (ironically, Paul Kelly helped to prosecute Eagleson). Kelly's predecessor, Ted Saskin was terminated because of improperly accessing and monitoring player e-mails. Bob Goodenow, Director of the PA prior to and during the last lockout, was ousted after the lockout season due to an abrasive and confrontational negotiating and leadership style. Kelly was seen as the first "clean" leader the PA has ever had , which is a sad commentary on the union and it leadership to this point.

As information starts to emerge about the PA's action, it appears that a cabal of insiders spearheaded the ouster movement. Buzz Hargrove, the current Ombudsman who replaced a deposed Eric Lindros; Ian Penny, the PA's legal counsel; and Ron Pink, Chairman of the union's advisory board mounted the effort to remove Kelly. It is rumored that Lindros has been a powerful influence behind the ouster movement, which is interesting for this fact: Kelly had ordered a forensic audit of the PA's finances for the three years prior to his assumption of the Director's role. That audit, while not complete, has uncovered questionable uses of union funds by, drum roll please... Eric Lindros and Ian Penny, the aforementioned legal counsel. Is anyone, given the history of the PA, really surprised by this action?

Fans of hockey cannot draw comfort from this action. The union is now controlled by leadership that is militant and confrontational and less interested in the good of the game. This old guard is still angry about the concessions the players put in place after the lockout of the 2004-05 season. With the collective bargaining agreement set to expire at the end of the 2011 season, the stage is set for another confrontation that threatens to shutter the arenas around the league. According to James Murphy of Murphy's Law, writing on NESN,
"These guys could really care less about whether the game and
the NHL take another PR hit with a work stoppage," according to one source.
"They're more concerned with making money. They had a cozy setup before Kelly
came in and found out what was going on. He has done his best to clean things up
and distance the union from its troubled past. Unfortunately, part of that
cleaning up should have been housecleaning because now these guys are conspiring
against him. This is simply crazy."

The action by the PA has signaled to the fans that the union leadership is going to change directions and become more confrontational with owners and management. If this course of action leads to a work stoppage and a lockout, then everyone will be hurt. I'm not saying that this will happen, but as a fan, I'm certainly not comfortable with the leadership in place in the PA given their history. The naming of the new Director is going to be very telling.