Friday, May 28, 2010

Has Bud Selig Changed the Sports World Forever?

A drama is playing out in Texas involving Major League Baseball and the sale of the Texas Rangers that could have an impact on all sports. The outcome of this drama could forever alter the landscape of financing sports franchises not only in baseball, but in all sports leagues.

Tom Hicks owns the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars, and like many owners of sports franchises, used debt from multiple lenders to finance the purchase of those franchises. There are 40 lenders that are involved in the financing of Hicks' sports teams, and the debt on the Rangers franchise is approximately $525 million.

Hicks is a businessman that has made his fortune by borrowing money to buy businesses, spruce them up, and sell them for, mostly, a significant profit. He is a leveraged buyout specialist. One of his most famous deals was the purchase of Dr. Pepper and 7 Up for $646 million and selling those companies several years later for $2.5 billion. Hicks has also made money- lots of it- by running leveraged buyout funds, funds that used debt to buy companies and sell them at appreciated prices in the future. These private equity funds would gather funds from investors, borrow more money from lenders, and buy companies using these proceeds. The power of the leverage- debt from lenders- increased the buying power of the funds that Hicks ran. For example, he invested $2 million into Mark Cuban's business and netted $55 million in less than a year when the company sold.

This is a great business when the economy is strong and growing. Leverage amplifies the positive return, making the profits to investors grow exponentially. Leverage is a fickle mistress, however, and when markets and the economy contract, leverage can be deadly.

No investor or investment manager gets every investment to work perfectly. One of Hicks' funds, named Fund 4, lost 30% for investors when the dot com bubble burst in 2000. Subsequent funds suffered losses, and in 2004, Hicks exited the fund management business.

This same business model has been used by Hicks in the acquisition of the Rangers and the Stars. As mentioned, the debt on the Rangers franchise is over $525 million. The Rangers franchise does not generate enough revenue to service the debt, which has meant during the tenure of Hicks' ownership the losses have been covered by Hicks personally. This is not a problem when revenue from other business ventures and investments is flowing in. However, when the economy turned and revenues from his other business interests waned, Hicks had to step up and cover the losses from personal funds.

In March of 2009, Hicks made a decision to stop covering these losses, and defaulted on an interest payment that was due to the lenders in the amount of $10 million. Hicks further spent reserves that lenders required to be maintained for future interest payments to cover operating losses for the Rangers and the Stars. Those reserves were originally $17 million. It was obvious that Hicks Sports Group (HSG) was in dire financial condition.

Hicks undertook an effort to sell one or both of the franchises, and seemingly secured a buyer for the Rangers, a group that included Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, and settled on a sale price of $500 million.

Which brings us to the drama that is now playing out in Dallas, in the offices of Major League baseball, and in the offices of the creditors of the Rangers.

The lenders have balked at the sale price. They contend that the team could fetch a higher price and this sale will result in losses they should not have to absorb. Last week, lenders holding 95% of the debt on the Rangers franchise voted to block the sale through the exercise of their legal rights as creditors.

The rightful and legal exercise of the creditor's rights has caused the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, to step in and threaten to revoke the rights of the creditors if they continue object to the sale. He claims that he can do this using a little used rule that allows the Commissioner to act "in the best interests of baseball". According to Daniel Kaplan, writing in the May 10th issue of Sports Business Journal, Selig notified the lenders via e-mail on April 30th, that he could utilize the "best interests" rule to revoke their liens if the creditors attempted to block the sale.

The invocation of this rule is not without precedent, as it was used to facilitate the sale of the Montreal Expos.While the "best interests" rule was initiated to relocate a failing franchise, this is the first time that the rule has been used to negate the rights of the lenders that have financed the purchase of a sports franchise. This action is unprecedented and creates a negative new dynamic between a sports league and the lenders that finance the purchase of a franchise.

The creditors have indicated that they would pursue legal recourse if Selig initiates this action.

While it will be interesting to see how this plays out for professional baseball and the Rangers, the impact of this action could have amazing ramifications for the entire sports world. The creditors, according to Kaplan, have warned Selig that if the Commissioner invalidates their rights, it will decimate sports financing in baseball. One lender, who requested anonymity, said that this action could freeze up sales of franchises in baseball, since most sales are dependent upon financing from creditors.

The money quote (pardon the pun) in Kaplan's article is this, "Bud can forget any lender, which includes any hedge fund or anyone, lending a single nickel or dime into baseball again," said Joe Kosich, who owns Dornich Capital Advisors and formerly ran sports lending for Wachovia Bank.

While this brouhaha is being played out in the confines of Major League Baseball, it is not a stretch to see the implications of this dispute for other sports. The chilling effect of this type of action would certainly limit the pool of potential buyers for a sports franchise if financing is not available.

The question is can a Commissioner in another sport, say a Gary Bettman, invoke a similar rule to limit the sale of a franchise by constraining creditors?

Funny that I should bring up Gary Bettman in this discussion.

In reading the Constitution and by-laws of the NHL, one does not find a specific "best interests" clause. One does find verbiage that discuss the "promotion" of the game, operating for the "good of the game", and actions that should be done for "protecting the integrity of the game". The Commissioner has the right to to "establish policies and and procedures regarding the provisions of the Constitution and by-laws... and any determination made by the Commissioner...shall be final and binding and shall not be subject to any review."

Sounds like the NHL Commissioner has wide latitude to act in the "best interests" of the game.

Unlike Bud Selig, Gary Bettman has the precedent of the Courts to back up his actions in the best interests of the game. Remember the Balsille attempt to purchase the Coyotes? The NHL negated the sale of the Coyotes to Balsillie because he did not abide by the rules of purchasing a franchise, and even though his offer price was higher than any other bid, it was not in the "best interests" of the NHL to have the purchase occur in the manner in which it was attempted.

So what does all this mean?

Should Major League baseball prevail in their forced sale, the effect will be to potentially dry up funds from lenders for the purchase of a sports franchise. As a result, the price or value of a sports franchise will decline because the pool of potential buyers will shrink significantly if financing is not available. Buyers that can write a check for a franchise- think the aforementioned Jim Balsillie- will be in great demand by potential sellers. Leagues may be forced to accept owners that at one time they would be unwilling to allow into their ranks. As financial institutions have initiated stricter underwriting standards for loans, the potential of a sports league to invalidate their standing as a creditor has a severely chilling effect and makes it more difficult for potential buyers to get financing.

Simply put, should lenders pull back from financing sports franchises, the value of those franchise will fall and it will be more difficult for existing owners to sell those franchises to potential buyers.

So this drama in Texas is speeding toward a resolution. The outcome can have impact on all of professional sports and the owners, and potential owners of a sports franchise.

We will see if the outcome is really in the "bests interests" of baseball.

And perhaps of all sports.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Monday is Memorial Day, the unofficial start to the summer. For most, school is out, vacations await, and it is an extra day to sleep in and enjoy a day without the rigors of the work environment. In the hustle of daily life, a day off is welcome. It is that same hectic pace that causes many to forget the significance of the day we celebrate. Declared as a federal holiday and named "Memorial Day" in 1967, this day has been set aside to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom. All of us that enjoy our freedoms in this country cognitively know that there is a cost to those freedoms. For families that have lost loved ones, that cost is all to real and painful. Thomas Jefferson said "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." This Monday, we honor the patriots that have secured our freedom by their willingness to lay down their life for us. In the midst of the barbecues and time with family and friends, pause for a moment and say a prayer of thanks for those men and women that have made our freedom possible.

A friend invested in a company that made revolving doors and toilet paper. Unfortunately, it went broke and he got wiped out before he could turn around.

In the first quarter of 2010, paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest percentage of total personal income in the United States in the history of this country. Simultaneously, government provided benefits from Social Security, food stamps, welfare, and other  programs, grew to an all time high in the same period. The total personal income in the United States is the combination of what is earned by individuals  from employers and the payment of income through government programs like those just mentioned. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, private wages fell to an all time low of 41.9% of total personal income. This trend cannot continue, because the government is dependent upon the growth of private wages to generate taxes for its growing and expensive entitlement programs. One has to look no further than Greece and the civil unrest there to get an idea of what happens when governments try to cut back on the government funded benefits. This level of spending is unsustainable without enormous tax increases, and most governments, ours included, have shown they do not have the political willpower to cut spending.

How many weeks are in a light year?

Congress is wrestling with a financial reform bill that will supposedly change the way that Wall St. does business (full disclosure- I work with those on Wall St. managing investments). Both houses of Congress have approved a bill but it must be reconciled because there are substantial differences in both the House and Senate version. Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, on Monday of this week called the bill a "disaster" because it did not address the "underlining causes of the economic issue, which were real estate and underwriting." Amazingly, both the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Association (Freddie Mac) are excluded from the reform effort. To date, Fannie and Freddie have been bailed out to the tune of $300 BILLION dollars. and they continue to bleed red ink at a rate of $8 Billion per month. Yet Congress does not deem it necessary to include them in a financial reform package?! One reason is that both of these entities are closely intertwined with the very Congress men and women that should oversee their operation, funneling thousands of dollars back to their campaign coffers. Fannie and Freddie have become a cesspool, and any effort to clean up any financial mess and regulate the financial services industry must include these two entities as well.

In high school, I was in the French club. All we would ever do is surrender to the German club.

And that, my friends, is my view.

The Hockey Community Continues to Reach Out

The hockey community in Nashville is known for its passion for the sport and their love for the Predators. After the Nashville flooding, the hockey community in Nashville will be known for their response to those that are hurting and in need.

SlapShot Radio, lead by our very own Paul McCann , has organized a fund raisng event to benefit Youth, Inc. YI operates an in-line hockey program in Bellevue that involves a number of children from the community. Their rink was destroyed in the recent flood, and repairs are a very expensive proposition.

Paul, and his wife Denise, have organized a viewing party and SlapShot Radio remote broadcast at Pie in the Sky Pizza on Wednesday, June 2nd from 5-9:30. There will be special guests dropping by; there will be some great silent auction items available; and of course, the Stanley Cup game will be on the HD televisions at Pie in the Sky.

Pie in the Sky is located at 110 Lyle Ave. off West End.

Come join Paul, Pete Weber, and local hockey fans as we raise money for a great cause and enjoy the Stanley Cup playoffs.

This is a great fund raising effort for a great cause.

Thanks, Paul.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Re-View and Pre-View: A Look at the Conference Finals and the SCF

Time for the View to take a look at his prognostication ability for the Conference finals and look ahead to the Stanley Cup Finals. Here we go...

San Jose versus Chicago

The Pick: Chicago in 7

Outcome: Chicago in 4

The Sharks reverted to form and bowed out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs without winning a game in the Conference finals. A team that had gotten balanced scoring from multiple players suddenly had only one player that could play consistently, and Patrick Marleau was not enough to overcome the potent Blackhawks. Evgeni Nabokov was not bad in net for the Sharks, but neither was he great. He had to be for the Sharks to have a chance to win this series. His counterpart, Hawk netminder Antti Niemi, was amazing. He made some stops that just caused you to say "Wow". The Hawks offense was the usual dangerous and explosive unit, but perhaps the story of this series- and the playoffs- was the emergence of Dustin Byfuglien as an offensive force. The Sharks just could not control the big man and he made them pay with two game winners and in general created havoc in the offensive zone. The Chicago defense did a great job of shutting down the big  guns of the Sharks, with the exception of the aforementioned Marleau. Danny Heatley was held without a point in this series. The Hawks, however, were firing on all cylinders in this series.

Philadelphia versus Montreal

The Pick: Philadelphia in 7

Outcome: Philadelphia in 5

The size and physicality of the Flyers was just too much for the Smurfs in the bleu, blanc, and rougue. Philadelphia kept coming at the Habs in waves and and Jaroslav Halak finally cracked under the pressure. On the other end, Michael Leighton continued his storybook run in the playoffs since taking over for the injured Bobby Brian Boucher, posting back to back shutouts in the series. The Flyers had strong play from Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, and Chris Pronger was a beast on the blue line. Pronger continues to chew up minutes and provide quality ice time for the Flyers, seeming to get stronger the more he plays. The Flyers were relentless, and their determination has propelled them past a speedy and game group of Canadiens.

So there you have it, a perfect 2 for 2 in my finals predictions. Proof that even a blind hog occasionally will find an acorn.

So now we are down to two teams vying for the opportunity to hoist Lord Stanley's silver chalice. Without further ado, here is my analysis and prediction:

War. That is the best way to describe how this series will shape up. An all out war. Two teams that bring talent and a physical presence to this matchup. Questions abound about this series. Will Leighton continue his strong play in net and hold off the potent Blackhawk scorers? Can Antti Niemi continue his quality play and handle the pressure of the Cup finals? Can the Flyers contain Dustin Byfuglien? I expect to see the top pairing for the Flyers on the ice against Kane and Toews, but this means that the other D for the Flyers have to step up big time in this series. The challenges that the Hawks present with all their lines means that the Flyers D corp is going to have to play a near perfect series to keep the pressure off Leighton. The Hawks will face a gritty, physical team in the Flyers, and this will be an interesting challenge for their squad. Philly will not hesitate to mix it up, and both teams will have to work to keep their emotions in check.

Behind the benches are two seasoned coaches. The edge goes to Philadelphia with Peter Laviolette having won a cup with the Hurricanes. Don't count out Joel Quenneville, but the slight edge will go to the Flyers in this area.

Both teams are playing with confidence and swagger, and I don't think the Flyers will be affected by the bedlam that will be the United Center. Will the Philadelphia rowdies have an impact on the youngsters on the hawks roster? Probably not.

From a fan's perspective, this will be a fun series to watch. I expect it to go seven games.

My Pick: Chicago in 7

And there you have it, one more set of predictions. Remember, this prediction is for amusement purposes only.

American Needle Bursts the NFL's Bubble

In a 9-0 ruling today, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and said that the National Football League cannot be treated as a "single entity" for the purposes of marketing and "core business decisions".

This case arose when the NFL terminated a contract with American Needle, a manufacturer of hats and apparel licensed with the NFL, and awarded the contract for the entire League apparel business to Reebok. American Needle sued on the basis of an anti-trust violation under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, claiming the NFL had limited competition. The trial court in Northern Illinois ruled in favor of the League, and that ruling was upheld by the 7th Circuit Court.

American Needle then filed for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court. In a surprising move, the NFL also petitioned the court to hear the case.

The crux of the case revolved around the concept of a "single entity", which the League claimed it was. Although the NFL is comprised of 32 teams, the premise was that the League operated as a single entity to promote the sport; make key business decisions; and market the game, League approved apparel, and the players themselves.

The NFL claimed that operating as a single entity was efficient, cost effective, and helped to expedite the decision making process regarding marketing and other core business functions (remember that phrase because it it going to be very important in just a moment). The NFL was joined by the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association in support of this position. Each league went as far as to file an amicus brief with the Court and provide very high paid legal assistance to support the NFL.

In writing the opinion of the Court, Justice John Paul Stevens stated that the League was comprised of separate, profit maximizing entities whose interests in marketing team apparel are not necessarily aligned. (Remember when the NFL sued the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones for cutting their own licensing deal with Nike?). The Court deemed that
"this agreement joined together separate economic actors pursuing separate economic interests such that it deprives the marketplace of individual centers of decision making and therefore of diversity of entrepreneurial interests and thus of actual or potential competition."

The Court said that although all 32 teams work together to promote the game, they were still 32 separate business entities that competed for the same talent both on and off the field as well as had divergent economic interests particular to their local markets. There was, in the eyes of the Court, enough difference between the franchises to preclude the League acting as a single entity.

The League had asked the Court to rule on its single entity status for the purpose of making "core business decisions" for all 32 franchises. The marketing of team apparel was the nexus for the hearing before the Court, but the League was requesting a broad anti-trust exemption for all of its business functions.

Why is this significant?

Simply put, as a single entity, any sports league could centralize the control of operations within the league office. Salaries could be placed on a standardized scale for players and coaches. Free agency would change dramatically as the league would have greater control over player movement. As a single entity, a sports league could unilaterally impose restrictions on the players that limits movement due to free agency or salary restrictions and not have to worry about the anti-competitive considerations of such actions.

Now that the single entity concept has been dismissed by the courts, the NFL, and all sports leagues, will have to collectively bargain with their players in good faith to avoid anti-trust considerations. The impact of this will be felt next year, as the CBA's for all the professional sports leagues are up for re-negotiation. Wonder why the other sports leagues were vigorously supporting the NFL in this case? Now you know.

The net effect of today's ruling by the Supremes is that all the sports leagues are still going to have to be aware of anti-trust considerations, not just in the marketing of a particular league and its licensed products, but also in the more contentious area of labor negotiations with their players. Single entity status would have given the leagues tremendous power in negotiating the upcoming CBA's and would have changed the dynamic between a league and its players to highly favor the league.

This case has been remanded back to the lower court for further analysis of the anti-trust violations cited in this case. I would not expect this case to be over, as the NFL feels it has some valid arguments about their position. They could settle out of court, but I believe that they may attempt to argue this position from other legal angles.

With all the sports leagues facing potentially contentious labor negotiations, single entity status would have given them a decided advantage. As it is, the players still have leverage in their negotiations, so I would expect to see some fireworks in more than one league after next season.

NHL fans all too painfully remember our last lockout season, and are hopeful that we do not have to endure another season without hockey.

Here is to hoping the owners and the players don't burst our bubble.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

A lot of sound and fury emanates from Washington these days about a "corrupt" and greedy Wall St. (full disclosure- I make my living interacting with Wall St. and managing investments). And without a doubt, there have been corrupt actions by firms and individuals that occupy positions of power on Wall St. The solution, at least as proposed by some in Congress, is for more government intervention and regulation. On the surface, that sounds good. Take away the greed and corruption through government regulation and oversight. But here is the important question- what if the government and its regulators are just as greedy and rapacious as the supposedly evil free enterprise of Wall Street? Won't happen, you say? Let me tell you about Shore Bank, a Chicago bank that by all intents and purposes failed. This bank was bailed out to the tune of $140 million by J.P. Morgan, CitiGroup, GE, and Goldman Sachs. Notice anything about these names? GE, Citi, and J.P. Morgan all received massive amounts of TARP or TALF bailout funds from the government. Goldman Sachs is currently under investigation by multiple regulatory agencies into their business practices. And Shore Bank? A major contributor to the Obama campaign. Some of these firms say privately that they have been pressured to assist in the bailout. Connect the dots, and remember Shore Bank the next time you hear someone in Washington say that the government has to intervene in the free market to prevent corruption.

Just wondering- can a bald man get a hairline fracture?

"You do Medicare for God and Country because you lose money on it. The only way to provide cost effective care is outside the Medicare system, a system without constant paperwork and headaches and inadequate reimbursement." So says Dr. Guy Culpepper, a Dallas area family practitioner as quoted in the Houston Chronicle. Since 2007, Texas physicians have been opting out of taking Medicare patients at a rate of 100-200 per year. As of 2008, 62% of primary care physicians in Texas no longer accept Medicare patients. How bad is it for the doctors? In 2001, a doctor receiving a Medicare payment of $1,000 made $410 after covering operating expenses. Cuts have been made to the program through the years to try to curtail expendititures, and there is another cut proposed for this year of 21%. If that reduction is enacted, treating the same patient today would net to them $72. The dilemma for Congress is that if they eliminate the Medicare cuts in order to keep more physicians in the system, it will cost $276 billion over the next ten years. This is problematic for seniors, who have, in many instances, a long history with their primary care physician. If they want to stay with those that opt out of Medicare, their costs will now be out of pocket. This is also going to become a crisis in the future for all of us as the U.S. faces a shortage of primary care physicians.

I used to work at an origami plant, but it folded.

Heard of the PIGS? You have been hearing about one very prominently in the news- Greece. The others? Portugal, Ireland, and Spain. The PIGS are important for several reasons. Of immediate concern is the fact that their economies are on the verge of collapse and, if they do so, could plunge the Euroland economy into a funk and lead to potentially fractious relations among the European Union membership. The financial aid package to Greece has strained political ties in the EU as other members have had to step forward to bail out the profligate and frankly stupid spending and economic policies of the Greek government. My friend Dirk Hoag asked if this was a "Greece fire" or something worse. I think it is a Greece fire that has the potential to burn down the house of the EU. More importantly, Greece, and the other members of the PIGS, should serve as a canary in the coal mine to governments all over the world. Unchecked spending cannot continue without dire, if not catastrophic financial and social consequences. This is a lesson that governments all over the world seem to forget and have to painfully re-learn time and again. Let us all hope that the U.S. is listening and watching lest a Greece fire in our own house get out of control.

Do pyromaniacs wear blazers?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Blue Jackets and Worthington Foundations Contribute to the Flood Relief Effort in Nashville

Central Division rival Columbus has fought many fierce battles with the Nashville Predators on the ice. The level of competitiveness between these two teams has led to many spirited contests, and it would be an understatement to say that Columbus does not like Nashville.

Yet, in a time of need in Nashville, the Columbus franchise and their fans have proven that hockey fans aren't like other fans. The Blue Jacket Foundation has announced a $5,000 gift to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to support the flood relief effort in our area. Additionally, this gift has been matched by the Worthington Foundation, a foundation created by the owners of the Blue Jackets.

Here is the press release:

In response to the ongoing need for flood restoration funds in the aftermath of massive storms that devastated the greater Nashville area earlier this month, the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation announced today the donation of a $5,000 emergency grant to the Metro Nashville Disaster Response Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.  Columbus-based metals manufacturer Worthington Industries joined with the Foundation and pledged a matching $5,000 grant from their corporate Foundation. Money from this fund will be granted to non-profit organizations that provide relief, restoration and clean-up efforts in the affected region.

The Nashville Predators organization was among those greatly impacted by this natural disaster.  In addition to damage sustained at the team’s Bridgestone Arena, many staff members are dealing with severe personal losses at home.       

“Although we are rivals on the ice, we are fellow members of the NHL family and the Blue Jackets Foundation is proud to support one of its own,” said Wendy Bradshaw, executive director of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation. “With this emergency grant, we are hoping to remind others that although the restoration efforts no longer top the daily news headlines, the need for monetary support of the extensive rebuilding and clean-up projects is urgent and ongoing.”

Blue Jackets fans interested in making a contribution may visit or send donations to The Community Foundation, P.O. Box 440225, Nashville, TN, 37244.

Since its inception 10 years ago, the Foundation has awarded nearly $3 million in community grants to non-profit organizations that serve the Foundation’s main pillars of giving: pediatric cancer; education; children’s health and safety; and the development of youth and amateur hockey.  For information on the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, visit 

The response from the hockey community to the disaster in Nashville and surrounding areas has been phenomenal. The hockey family around the country has rallied support for relief and restoration efforts that has been exceptional.

Thank you to the Blue Jackets Foundation and the Worthington Foundation for your support in this difficult time.

Once again, you have proven that hockey fans aren't like other fans.

Nashville Flood Relief On-Line Auction is Live!

The on-line auction to benefit the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee is now live. Items are coming in from teams around the NHL as well as generous hockey fans who want to help.

You can go to

to access the auction site. This link takes you to the home page of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and the auction items.
Items are being added as they are being received, and there are some very nice items on the way.

Bid early, bid often, and know that your support will go to help those that desperately need your assistance.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NHL Tweetup Predator Auction Items

You see some of the items that have been generously provided by the Nashville Predators and will be available at the NHL Nashville Flood Relief Tweetup as auction items. There is a signed David Legwand jersey; a Smashville canvas print signed by Ryan Suter; a Black and Blue Smashville poster signed by various team members; a "Rivals" collectible poster from Hatch Show Print signed by the team; a Shea Weber and Ryan Suter signed Olympic photo (8" X 10"); a signed and framed Jordin Tootoo photo; and official game pucks signed by Steve Sullivan and Jordin Tootoo.

Head Coach Barry Trotz is providing four tickets to a game next season and a tour of the locker room. More hockey related items are being added even as we speak.

There will also be non hockey related auction items as well. A collectible print by award winning photographer Robin Hood of downtown Franklin will be available for bid. There are some surprises that we are working on as well.

This event will raise funds for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and their flood relief program. 100% of proceeds will be donated.

The tweetup will be held June 7th at the Tin Roof at 1516 Demonbreun from 6-9.

The gracious folks at Tin Roof are not only hosting the event, but will be making a donation to the flood relief effort as well.

To confirm your attendance, go to:              Please do this even if you are not a Twitter user. There is a link on the site to register if you are not using Twitter. This will allow us to get a count to give to the folks at Tin Roof.

Come out and join the fun with your fellow Predator fans as we support a great cause.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nashville Flood Relief Tweetup Is On!

The Nashville Flood Relief Tweetup has been set for June 7th at the Tin Roof, located at 1516 Demonbreun St. in Nashville from 6-9:00. There will be silent auction items from the Predators as well as other items that will be of interest at the site. We are also attempting to get coaches, players and members of the broadcast team that are in town to stop by for pictures and visits with the Pred nation.

In addition to the on-site silent auction, there will be an on-line auction of donated NHL merchandise on the Community Foundation's site on E-bay Giving at Just go to the site, type in the name of Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee under the "search non-profit" section. You will be directed to their site.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee Flood Relief Fund.

This will be a great night of food, fun, and fellowship as the Predator nation gathers for a good cause.

To confirm your attendance, go to

Social media is changing the way we communicate and get our information. it is also changing the boundaries of our community. The outpouring of support and prayers from around the country after the flood has been phenomenal. Much of this information, communication, and support has come via Twitter. Twitter continues to change the dynamic of hat we call  our community.

Upon learning of the situation in Nashville, Dani Muccio, known to twitter users as dani3boyz, got in contact with me and said why don't we do a "tweetup", a meeting of twitter users in a general area, and use it as a fund raising effort for flood relief. Great idea, and it is going to come to pass on Monday, June 7.

However, Dani said that the hockey fans in Nashville are part of a bigger community drawn together by their love of the sport, and she thought that she could get support for the fund raising effort from teams around the NHL. And through her efforts, we are receiving items form the L.A. Kings, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, and other teams.

Social media has changed the way we communicate. It was in the venue of social media that the rallying cry "We Are Nashville" was spawned and took flight. It has been through social media that countless volunteers hae been organized to meet the needs of a hurting people. It has drawn in the support of hockey teams and fans from L.A. to New York.

And it is re-defining what we call a community.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Re-View and Pre-View: A Look at the Second Round and the Conference Finals

It's time for the View to look back at his second round picks and see how they turned out, and look ahead to the conference finals. Without further ado, here is a review of the second round of the playoffs:

Pittsburgh versus Montreal

The Pick: Pittsburgh in 6

Outcome: Montreal in 7

Jaroslav Halak continued to shine in post season play as he was outstanding in net for the Canadiens. As solid as his play was, the defense in front of him did a great job of limiting the high powered flightless birds offense. The Canadiens were very solid in the neutral zone, aggressive on the forecheck, and generally did a great job of controlling the Penguins scoring threats. Nevertheless, the Penguins had a chance to win the series with a seventh game on their home ice. However, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury absolutely melted down in the deciding contest, getting pulled in the second period after allowing 4 goals on 13 shots. For the Habs, their storybook season continues as they have now knocked off the beasts of the East with their victories over Washington and Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia versus Boston

The Pick: Boston in 7

Outcome: Philadelphia in 7

The Bruins looked as if they were going to sweep this series, jumping out to a 3-0 behind Tuuka Rask and an offense that scored timely goals from the entire line up. However, the Bruins lost Marco Sturm and David Kreiji, and those injuries proved devastating to them as their offense went into a funk. After losing three straight games, the Bruins had a chance to win the series on home ice. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the contest and then proceeded to implode, eventually losing the game 4-3. This is a series that will be a sore spot for Bruins fans for a long time to come, and is being referred to as one of the greatest collapses in sports history.

San Jose versus Detroit

The Pick: Detroit in 6

Outcome: San Jose in 5

The Sharks made a giant step toward shedding the label of perennial playoff choke artists with a very solid series against the Wings. Uncharacteristically, the Wings spent a lot of time in the sin bin, and the Sharks made them pay for their transgressions. With the exception of a 7-1 debacle in game 4, the Sharks looked like the better team throughout the series. Evgeni Nabokov was strong in net, but the real story of this series was the play of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both players have been notorious for disappearing in the playoffs, but they were prominent in this matchup, playing up to their regular season prowess. The Sharks defense did a great job of limiting the explosiveness of the Wings offense, as Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, and Fransen (with the exception of game 4) were non-factors in the series.

Vancouver versus Chicago

The Pick: Chicago in 7

Outcome: Chicago in 6

As this series went along, Chicago just exerted their will on the Canucks. Dustin Byfuglien was a beast, scoring six goals in the series and generally creating havoc in front of Roberto Luongo. Luongo looked good in spurts, but generally was shaky throughout the series. The Chicago defense was very good in front of Antti Niemi in shutting down the Sedins, Mikael Samuelson, and Alex Burrows. Chicago was the more physical of the two teams, and their bruising style of play took a toll on the Canucks. Vancouver opened the series with a win at the United Center, and looked as if they would make this a real contest between the two teams. Chicago then reeled off three straight wins and were dominating in the process. Yet again, Vancouver will have a long off season to stew about their shortcomings against the Hawks.

Once again, the View has proven why you should never follow his advice when placing your bets on hockey games. 25% success rate in the second round. Yikes!

Is that going to stop me from making my fearless picks for the finals? Is our tax code fair? Uh, wait. Anyway, on to the picks for the finals.

Philadelphia versus Montreal

The Pick: Philadelphia in 7

The storybook run for the Habs comes to an end here. Philadelphia will be too physical and put too much pressure on the Habs for them to pull out this series. I expect Halak to continue to play very soundly, but the pressure that the Flyers will bring to this matchup will be too much. Michael Leighton has moved back into the starting tender's position for the Flyers, and I see him playing a strong series. Look for the Flyers defense to contain the Smurfs from Montreal and for them to cool down the red hot Michael Camillieri. Montreal is playing loose and with the mindset of an underdog, and will make it a tightly contested series.

San Jose versus Chicago

The pick: Chicago in 7

This is one of the most compelling finals matchups in a while. Can San Jose's big guns continue to produce? Will Antti Niemi hold up under the relentless pressure from the Sharks offense? This series could be decided by the play of the third and fourth lines for each team. If Chicago can outplay the Sharks in this regard- and I think they will- then they will capture this series. Niemi is going to have to be at his best against the Sharks, but I look for the Hawks defense to step up in front of him. I expect the powerful Hawks offense to eventually get the best of the Sharks defense. This is a series that is going to be fun to watch.

And there you have it, my fearless, and some would say faulty, finals predictions. Remember, these are for amusement purposes only. Meaning that my predictions are always good for a laugh.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

While much attention has been focused on what is going on in Washington with our federal legislature, many of the more ferocious tax and spend battles will be fought at the state level. Most states are waking up to the fact that overly generous pension plans for state and municipal workers will ultimately decimate state coffers. The typical reaction of most states has been to raise taxes and demand more from property owners and businesses within their borders. This is not without consequence. Chief Executive magazine recently ranked California as the worst state in the U.S. in which to do business for this very reason. The editors went so far as to call California "the Venezuela of the United States (ouch!). The top three states, based on a ranking of 12 factors that included tax rates, crime statistics and quality of life, among others, were: Texas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Each of these states has a low tax environment and they are pro-business.  Government at all levels is faced with tightening their  belt and re-thinking what services they deliver and how they deliver them. These battles at the state houses around the country will be interesting to watch. In the meantime, look for more companies to relocate to states that have a favorable tax environment.

I was going to work on my roof this weekend, but I got shingles.

Have you heard of the Independent Payment Advisory Board? No? You will. Tucked quietly away in the healthcare socialization bill is a provision establishing the IPAB. And who are they? According to the terms of the healthcare bill, the IPAB will be an advisory board appointed by the President that will consist of 15 members that will serve 6 year terms. And what will they be doing? They have one core function- to decrease healthcare costs that the government incurs. How will they do this? By determining where to cut Medicaid services and procedures. Simply put, this group will determine who will receive services based on a cost benefit analysis. Too old for that heart procedure? If the IPAB decides that you are, there will be no appeal. To override a decision by the IPAB will require the vote of 60 Senators. Should the Senate choose to override an IPAB mandate, the President has the right to veto their decision. So expect to see some rather draconian rulings from the IPAB regarding the delivery of healthcare services to the populace that needs them most- the elderly and those that are very sick. This is the only way to achieve the cuts in Medicare that have been promised to make socialized medicine work. The insinuation of this group into the doctor/patient relationship portends a very scary future for the ability for each of us to determine our medical outcomes.

Do you think that mountaineers rope themselves together to keep the sensible ones from going home?

Perspective is important when looking at the current fiscal situation in the United States. Let me give you a little perspective. In 2001, the total cost of our federal government was 18.2% of our GDP. As late as 2007, the federal government cost us 19.6% of our GDP. By cost, I mean the taxes the government took as a percentage of the total value of the goods and services we produce in this country. If our federal spending continues at the pace at which it is now going, the federal government will spend 18% of GDP just on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and interest on the national debt by 2028. This is not including the cost of national defense and other government programs. The exponential growth of our entitlement programs, which represent a massive transfer of wealth, threatens to swamp our federal budget. Our current debt and the funding of entitlement programs leaves a $56.4 TRILLION dollar deficit with our taxes at their current level, according to the non-partisan Peter Peterson Foundation. That means every man, woman, and child in this country is on the hook for $184,000. Want to guess where your tax rates are going? Unless we re-think our spending priorities, our country is heading toward unprecedented tax increases.

My bank called me about suspicious activity on my debit card. They couldn't believe I bought a gym membership.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My View

Images of the flooding and the aftermath in Nashville

This will be a departure from my normal state of the world "My View" post. Since I put up the last "My View" this past Friday, the world for many Nashvillians has been forever altered. The raging storm waters that were spawned by up to 18" of rain in parts of Middle Tennessee devastated property, dislocated families and businesses, and, tragically, took lives.

Now that the flood waters have receded, the extent of the physical damage is becoming apparent, and it is staggering. While the damages are still being assessed, the cost in lives lost is still rising as well, as numerous people are still missing, swept away in the torrent of nature's fury.

In the midst of the tumult, and especially afterwards, the character of the people of Nashville and the surrounding area has shown itself to be solid and sturdy. Neighbors reached out not only to neighbors, but to those they did not know to offer assistance and comfort. Businesseses put aside a profit motive and offered their support to the hurting. That effort is continuing unabated, as people from parts of Nashville unaffected by the floods have mounted efforts to remove debris, clean houses, and wash clothes for those displaced. The outpouring of volunteer efforts has been amazing to outsiders, but not for us that live here. 

It is what we do.

Praise must be given to the men and women in the police and fire departments in Nashville and other communities. These men and women constantly put themselves into harm's way to rescue those trapped by the flood waters. Innumerable water rescues were performed without a single loss of life. Firefighters fought house fires standing knee deep in flood waters. Police, fire, and emergency management personnel worked for days to insure our safety. Thank you.

The recovery is under way, but it will not be easy. Nashville will take a hit economically. The financial impact to businesses and individuals goes far beyond the cost of the cleanup. The task of returning normalcy to our lives will be arduous. But we will return to normal.

It is what we do.

The support of the Twitter community from outside of Nashville has been amazing. Donations, prayers, words of concern have flowed in, and they are not stopping. A new medium of communication has tied together a new community, and in a time of distress, that new, electronic community, has done what all real communities do.

They responded.

For all of us as Nashvillians, we face our time of tribulation. We have been hurt physically, financially, and emotionally. It is going to take some time to bounce back. We will bounce back.

It is what we do.

And as individuals and collectively as a community, we will be once again solid and sturdy.

Out of the depths of this disaster, good will become visible. We will learn of acts of heroism. Not necessarily a dramatic rescue, but the heroism of a neighbor embracing a neighbor and helping them with their burden. We will forge new bonds of community across racial and economic lines as we attempt to restore our beloved city.  We will vanquish the challenges before us.

It is what we do.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We Will Stand Again

Nashville is a city built on the limestone bedrock prevalent throughout Middle Tennessee. A foundation for the edifices on both sides of the Cumberland River, the limestone is a lot like the people of Nashville.

Solid, sturdy.

This past weekend, the very foundation of the people of Nashville was put to the test as Mother Nature decided to see just how solid and sturdy a people Nashvillians really are. Storms that began early Saturday morning dropped nearly 14 inches of rain in the city before finally abating on Sunday evening.

Mother Nature decided to see how much of a punch Nashville and her people could really take.

And frankly, she knocked us down. Hard.

It is no disgrace to get knocked down. It happens to every person, community, or nation. It is painful. The telling part about the character of any person, city, or country, however, is if they will get back up and stand again.

In Nashville, we will stand again.

Images of people who had been flooded out of homes and lost everything were flashed across our televisions and internet feeds instantaneously. We watched in real time the grief, the horror, and the agony as our neighbors watched their homes being swept away; as their livlihoods were ruined; or worst of all, as loved ones were missing.

The damage was widespread and catastrophic, and as we viewed those images, we saw another image as well. One that should forever be indelible.

It was people of Nashville reaching out to help those that were in peril, that were hurting and suffering loss, that were completely flattened by the force of Mother Nature's punch.

Strangers that got people they did not know out of harm's way. Strangers that were sheltered by compassionate people who opened their homes and their hearts. A community reaching out to their own and lifting them back to their feet.

Solid. Sturdy. The people of Nashville.

Patten Fuqua wrote an eloquent piece entitled "We Are Nashville" on the Cellblock 303 website, and it can be read here. In his piece, he mentioned that you haven't heard much about what has happened in Nashville because the people of Nashville didn't loot, didn't riot. Instead, they helped their neighbor and set about to clean up and recover.

Solid. Sturdy. The people of Nashville

This won't be over quickly. The devastation to parts of the city are unspeakable. Lives have been forever altered by the fury of nature. The process of standing will be painful, and it will take time, immense effort, and determination.

But know this:

We will stand again!

If you want to help, please visit these sites to learn about opportunities or to make a donation:

Hands On Nashville

The Community Foundation of Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Text "Red Cross" to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross in Nashville

The Salvation Army- Nashville

All animal shelters in Nashville and the surrounding counties are in need of pet supplies.

Second Harvest Food Bank Nashville

photo by samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The View's End of the Year Awards

Now that the Predators season has ended, it is time for the View to hand out his much awaited end of the year awards. So without further ado, here they are:

The D.B. Cooper Award

This award goes to the player that took the money and disappeared. The vote on this one was not even close, as this award goes to David Legwand. After signing a new and hefty contract, David had a great December, lighting up the scoreboard and playing like many had thought- and hoped- he would since his days as the second pick in the draft. Unfortunately for Predator fans, David disappeared for much of the remainder of the regular season. A strong playoff series was not enough to wrest this award away from him.

The Obama "Hope and Change" Award

This dubious honor is presented to the Predators power play. Awful for much of the season, it was hoped that this unit would change in the playoffs. Alas, like much of politics today, it was just more of the same old garbage.

The Tiger Woods Scoring Award

This award goes to the player that during this past season scored like Tiger Woods, and I am not necessarily talking about his golf game. Patric Hornqvist, you are a winner! Coming off a less than stellar rookie campaign, the Horn Dog (no, not Tiger) had a breakout year to lead the Predators with 30 goals. The Horn Dog scoring as consistently as Tiger was a very pleasant surprise for the Predators.

The Mark of the Beast Award

Players got religion when they were standing in front of the net and Shea Weber was getting ready to unleash a bomb from the blue line. Broken feet, ankles, and hands were common place when Shea fired the cannon. Even nets were no match for his rocket. The scorch marks on the Olympic twine were proof of the power of his shot. Congratulations, Shea! (Please don't shoot the puck at me!)

The David Copperfield Award

Copperfield is known for his vanishing acts, and for the Predators, the biggest vanishing act occurred in the playoffs by none other than Captain Jason Arnott. The big guy was held scoreless until the last game of the series, when he tallied two goals. Too little and too late.

The Terminator "I'll Be Back" Award

Steve Sullivan, you not only came back, but came back in a big way, playing every game in the regular season for only the second time in your career. This is remarkable considering the extent of your injury and the effort to come back. Yes, I know it is now the second season since you have returned to the ice after being out for so long, but you have the heart of of a champion. Here's to another season of good health.

The Jerry Lee Lewis "Great Balls of Fire" Award

Dennis Grebeshkov, you are a man! Not only did you sustain a severe injury to one of your testicles (I am cringing as I type this) in the first period of a game with the L.A. Kings, but you played two more periods. Later you went to the hospital where you were treated. Just another day at the office, huh? Wow. Just wow!

The Orville and Wilbur Wright Frequent Flyer Award

Awarded to the player that spent lots of time in an airplane shuttling back and forth between Nashville and Milwaukee. Early in the season, Cody Franson was called up, sent back, called up, and sent back again before finally being called up and sticking with the big club. Hope you enjoyed all those free peanuts, Cody.

The "Why Yes, I Am An Expert" Award

Awarded to a player that provided pithy insight and humor during the course of season with his in game comments from the bench, this honor goes to none other than Dan Ellis. Ellis absolutely gave some good commentary sprinkled with comedic comments during the course of the game. He was absolutely the best. Absolutely. (Absolutely count= 3). Andy Sutton would say you are an expert, sir.

The "Hey, We Have A Hockey Team?" Award

A tie for this coveted award goes to David Climer and Joe Biddle of the Tennessean. Both wrote articles during the Predators first round playoff series with Chicago. Before that- zero, zip, nada. For these guys, if it isn't UT or the Titans, it is non-existent. When informed they had to write an article about the Predators, both skulked back to their cubicles and pouted for most of the day. They then called John Glennon and asked if we really had a hockey team.

The "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Due Process" Award

Due process? What's that? So what if it does exist. This award goes to Rusty Lawrence and Steve North of the Nashville Sports Authority, who demanded that the Predators majority owner David Freeman forgo his due process rights in a dispute with the IRS. As award winners, Lawrence and North get free courses at Nashville State in accounting and constitutional law.

The "I Just Make It Up As I Go Along" Award

Goes to no other than the Hockey News "writer" Ken Campbell, who once again trotted out a tired and false meme that the Predators were going to relocate to Kansas City. Never mind that this issue was a non-issue and had no basis in fact. For his efforts, Campbell was awarded a first ever "Hattie" award by the View.

And there you have it, folks. The second annual End of the Season Awards as presented by the View. Hope all of you enjoy them, and if you have suggestions for others, feel free to let me know.