Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wade Belak Found Dead

Wade Belak was tragically found dead in a Toronto hotel this afternoon. As of this writing, details are not known. Police forensic units are still on the scene.

The Nashville Predators, for whom Belak last played, released this statement:
“The entire Nashville Predators organization and family is shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of Wade Belak. Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Jennifer and children Andie and Alex. We offer our full support to them at this very difficult time.”
Belak was scheduled to appear in the Canadian show The Battle of the Blades and was employed by the Predators as an analyst for their radio broadcast team for the upcoming season.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Time to Step Up, Twitizens! @hawgs38 Hurricane Re-Build

Weather porn.

Those of us not affected by Hurricane Irene indulged in weather porn.

You know... watching the Weather Channel or your news provider of choice and seeing almost instantly the destruction that the massive hurricane Irene was wreaking on the East Coast.

"Glad it isn't me" is a thought that probably crossed our collective minds at some point during the weekend.

But you know what?

It IS somebody.

There was tragic loss of life.

Some suffered extensive property damage.

And some lost all their worldly possessions.

Twitter has connected a geographically diverse group of people united around common interests. When one area of the country is affected by an event like Irene, those in other areas that were not impacted can rally to help. And the "twitizens" of Twitter have shown themselves to be a caring group of people.

This is our opportunity to once again step up and show what we are about, not just as twitizens but as people. One of our own, hawgs38, has lost everything in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene as flooding has taken her home and all her possessions.

Dani Muccio, on Twitter as @dani3boyz, has used her immense talent to put together a virtual tweet-up to help out hawgs38. You can go to the NHL tweetup site here and read even more about this great cause.

Our friend will have insurance to replace a lot of the major losses, but there are still a number of immediate expenses that she has. This is an opportunity to help out a very good person in a time of great need. You can donate as much as you would like by clicking on the PayPal link at the bottom of this blog. 100% of the proceeds will be delivered to a person that could really use our help, support, and prayers right now.

Oh, yeah. This is important;

100% of the first $1,000 donated will be matched dollar for dollar.

Thanks for your support for a friend to many of us and more importantly, to a person who is in desperate need right now.

I know you twitizens will come through.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

When Barack Obama took over as President in 2008, the economy was sliding into a recession, one from which we have not yet emerged. The approach of the new administration was to provide "stimulus" to the economy to get companies to hire and reverse the negative economic trends. It was thought that if the federal government provided funding (stimulus) to "shovel ready" projects, companies would employ more people, buy more equipment and materials, and move the economy in a positive direction. How's that workin' out for ya, Mr. Obama? $4 trillion dollars later, real unemployment has soared to over 17% and public confidence in the ability of this administration to successfully manage the economy has cratered to an all time low. Here is the conceit of the apparatchiks and wonks in the federal government: they believe they can create jobs, that when money is thrown out there, jobs magically appear. Here is the truth: no amount of federal "stimulus" can create permanent jobs. Once the stimulus money runs out, the job is gone. However, there is a corollary to the truth that I just gave: while it is true that government cannot create jobs, it is also true that the government can most assuredly PREVENT jobs from being created. How so? The Obama administration is a classic case study in creating the threat of a more onerous tax regime and costlier regulatory environment. So how does business respond? By reductions in their work force to save money and by not making capital investments to grow their business. It is time that we as a nation realize that government more often serves as an impediment to the creation of jobs and a thriving economy, and we should demand that government get out of the way of the entrepreneurs that create that vast majority of jobs in this country.

I used to be addicted to soap, but I am clean now.

In the paragraph above, I called government, especially federal government, an impediment to business. Just so you will know this is not the random ruminations of your resident curmudgeon, Investors Business Daily took a look at rules and regulations that have been promulgated and implemented under the Obama Administration. In the first 26 months that President Obama has been in office, 75 major new regulatory rules have been implemented. Doesn't sound like much until one realizes that each one of these new federal regulations is a "friction cost" for a company to do business in the United States. Friction costs are the cost to render a good or service that are imposed from outside agents, such as government. As government drives up the cost of doing business, more and more jobs disappear in this country and the unemployment rate remains intractably high. 75 major new regulatory rules is a lot. Here is a warning: you haven't seen anything yet. According to the Federal Register, the official record of government rules and regulations, there are 4,200 new rules an regulations that are in the pipeline to be implemented in the next few years. This staggering number does NOT include the massive regulatory burden that will be created when Obama's socialized medical program is in full swing. This simply means that for a business to open its doors, it will have already had to pay an exorbitant amount of money to comply with the burden of federal rules and regulations before they earn their first dollar. Now it becomes clear as to why many companies have moved their operations to more favorable regulatory and tax environments. And this reinforces what I said above: government cannot create jobs, but government can certainly kill jobs.

When songwriters die, do they de-compose?

Many experts have said that if we want to get our economy healthy again, we must provide an environment where it can grow. The factors mentioned above contribute to an environment that does not foster growth, and as such, our growth as measured by our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is slumping. At the start of 2011, it was estimated that our GDP would grow around 3.5%. Economists have now revised the growth estimate downward to 1.5%. This anemic growth rate is problematic for two reasons: obviously, the economy is not growing fast enough to add net new jobs; and the lower level of economic activity means less tax revenue going to the federal government. That last point is particularly important in light of the leadership in Washington today. Why? Because, unlike families or business that cut back their level of spending when tough economic times hit, the federal government does not seem to have the capacity to rein in their spending. Consider this: between 2000-7 the public debt grew in inflation adjusted terms 56%. Between 2007 and 2012 (the U.S. fiscal year will end 9/30/12), the public debt is expected to grow 134%, more than double the rate of growth from 2000. Friends, here is the stark truth: if Washington cannot control the rampant spending there is no way we can possibly grow our way out of this hole in we we find ourselves. Again, Washington has to realize that our nation is no different financially than any family in this country, and that is when income levels fall, spending has to fall as well or the risk of financial calamity grows ever greater. It is time for all of us to make our politicians realize that our nation's current fiscal course is one that  will lead to economic disaster.

One little known talent that I have is that I know how to juggle. I just don't have the balls to do it in public.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My View- Understanding the U.S. Budget

When we hear the U.S. budget discussed, the mind often boggles at the the size of the numbers that are used. The sheer enormity of the budget makes it difficult to comprehend. To better to understand our situation, I would like to give you the following example about the recently completed budget deal:

2011 Federal Budget Deal

Federal Budget: $3,820,000,000,000 (3.82 Trillion)

Income: $2,170,000,000,000 (2.17 Trillion)

New Debt: $1,650,000,000,000 (1.65 Trillion)

Amount Cut: $38,500,000,000 (38.5 Billion) – about 1% of the total budget.

National Debt Total: $14,271,000,000,000 before this years budget.

Harry Reid is calling this a “historic amount“. The President said it is a “historic deal”. John Boehner simply said, “We've come to an agreement”.

Let’s put this in perspective. It helps me to think about these numbers in terms to which we can relate.

Let’s remove eight zeroes from those numbers and pretend this is a household budget for the fictitious Jones family.

Amount of money the Jones family spent this Year: $38,200

Total income for the Jones family this Year: $21,700

Amount of new debt added to the credit card this Year: $16,500

Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710

New outstanding balance on credit card: $159,210

So last week, the Jones family sat down at the kitchen table and agreed to cut $385 from their yearly budget.

So now you can see, in everyday terms we can all grasp, our budget situation. To say that our situation in this country is dire is an understatement. While Washington continues to dither, the situation we face continues to deteriorate.

The technical term for this is: "We are screwed!"

And that, my friends, is not my view, but it is reality.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Most of my readers would say that their total tax bill is high enough and that they do not need to send the federal government any more money. Not Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and a man revered for his investment savvy. Buffett says that the super rich (households that have $1 million or more in income according to him) are "coddled" (his word) and they should have to pay more taxes.As with anything and most anyone, it is important to look a little further to accurately frame Buffet's call for more taxes on the "super rich". Here is what you should know. Buffett decided in 2007 that the federal government was not worthy of taxing and confiscating a majority of the assets that he had accumulated and that he could make better decisions about how to charitably spend his money. So he created several foundations and dumped his Berkshire Hathaway stock into them, establishing charitable foundations not only for himself, but for his two sons and daughter as well. Here is what he had to say at the time,
"... my two sons foundations, my daughter's foundation will do a better job with lower administrative costs than the federal government." 
By the way, as officers of their respective foundations, his children can draw a handsome salary from these foundations. What Buffett has demonstrated is what economists and central planners in the federal government miss, ignore, or forget all the time: human beings respond to the environment around them. This is especially true when it comes to money and finances. Individuals and families will use tax loopholes and legal maneuvers to avoid as much taxation as possible. Buffett did this in 2007, and if taxes are increased, the great majority of Americans will do this when that occurs. The next time you hear of someone on the left or super wealthy, or both, calling for increasing taxes, do a little digging and see what they have done to avoid the tax bite themselves to put everything in perspective.

I was sitting at a bar when a girl a few seats down sneezed violently. Seems she had a glass eye and it popped out. I caught it as it rolled down the bar and gave it back to her. She gratefully offered to buy me a drink. I asked if she did that for all the guys, and she said, "No, just those that catch my eye."

For a moment, suppose the "rich" are under-taxed ("coddled" to use Buffet's term), and suppose we should tax the living daylights out of them. Fairness and all, you know? If that premise is true, why does President Obama's tax proposals, and other proposals from the left, all start raising taxes on families that are making $250,000 or more? Here are the numbers from the IRS as of 2009: 237,000 households in the U.S. reported income of $1 million or more, and they paid $178 billion in taxes; 8,274 households reported income of $10 million or more and paid $54 billion in taxes. However, there were 3,920,000 households with income above $200,000 and they paid $434 billion in taxes. There are two things that strike me about these number: the rich really do work to avoid excessive taxation; and the middle class earning $250K is where the money is. Notice how the absolute dollars decline in taxes paid by the very wealthy as well as the percentage of income that is paid in taxes. From the experience of working with clients, I can tell you that there are certain tax shelters- completely legal- that are incredibly expensive and not cost effective for many in the middle class.The "rich" work harder than most to legally avoid taxes. Nothing wrong with that, but you and I should realize "taxing the rich" is nothing more than leftist class warfare rhetoric and that the real burden of paying for the spending binge that our country has been on is going to fall on those that are in the middle class as far as earnings. The middle class is large in number and is the easiest target for those in Washington to go after. You have been warned.

If a leper gives you the finger, do you have to give it back?

Want to know why the call to raise taxes grows ever louder from this administration and from those on the left? Besides being  a part of their political DNA, higher taxes are going to have to occur to keep the level of entitlement spending intact and a larger and larger segment of the population beholden to the federal government for their financial well being. Don't believe me? Take a look at the chart below from the Federal Office of Management and Budget:

Currently, 66% of federal expenditures are for entitlement programs of some form. Yes, I know that we have paid in to the Social Security fund, but over the years, Congress has spent that money on other things, and all that is in there now is a bunch of IOU's in the form of U.S. Treasury bonds, so it is, in my opinion, an entitlement program. Not only do we have a high level of entitlement spending now, but demographics will drive it even higher as more and more baby boomers move into their retirement years. Until we as a nation get serious about reforming entitlements and approach our financial situation in a non-partisan, honest, and thoughtful way, we will continue to suffer through volatility both in our financial markets and in our political discourse.

I was checking into a hotel on a recent business trip, and being a modest man, I asked the desk clerk if the porn channel in my room was disabled. She said, "No, it's regular porn, you sicko."

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Predators Continue Their Commitment to our Community

As hockey fans, we focus on the play on the ice and the impact of the players on our roster on the outcomes of games. The impact of the Nashville Predators goes far beyond what happens on the ice, however, as this organization has shown itself time and again to be an exemplary corporate citizen.

Once again, the Predators made a dramatic impact in our community by donating $181,000 to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital for pediatric cancer research. Here is the press release from the Predators:


Nashville, Tenn. (August 12, 2011) – Nashville Predators forward Martin Erat, goaltender Anders Lindback and President/Chief Operating Officer Sean Henry will present a check for $181,000 to officials of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Tuesday, August 16 at 1 p.m. on the second floor Performance Stage at the Children’s Hospital.

This is the Nashville Predators third donation to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, raising more than $425,000 for the Hospital and its programs over the past three years. The largest portion of this year’s donation ($125,000) will be used towards an endowed pediatric cancer research fund – which will always be active and to which others may donate – with the remaining donation ($56,000) supporting a number of programs including Beads of Courage, Books From Birth of Middle Tennessee, Flashes of Hope and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

The donation is a result of grants and fundraising efforts by the Nashville Predators, including the Nashville Predators Care for Kids game nights held this past season. On these nights, 25 percent of every single-game ticket sold and, additionally, 100 percent of the silent-auction proceeds were donated back to the Children’s Hospital. Donations were also collected at all Bridgestone Arena entrances before the games and throughout the building during the games. In addition, throughout the season the Nashville Predators donate tickets for families, autographed memorabilia for fundraising events, player and Gnash visits and dancer performances and participation in the We Care for Kids initiative.

Over the years, Predators players and team mascot GNASH have made numerous visits to patients at the Children’s Hospital. Some players have even taken a special interest in the cause including former Predators forwards J-P Dumont and Steve Sullivan, who in recent seasons sponsored a suite for Predators home games that was made available to Children’s Hospital patients and their families.

“This relationship has been a win for the Preds and it has been a win for Vanderbilt, but most importantly, it has been a win for the families who turn to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for treatment and care,” Nashville Predators President and Chief Operating Officer Sean Henry said. “The hospital does great work and our players, management and staff have embraced this relationship and everything it stands for.”
“We are very fortunate to receive yet another generous donation from the Nashville Predators organization,” Monroe Carell Jr. professor and surgeon-in-chief at Children’s Hospital John W. Brock III, M.D. said. “The funds will not only help Children’s Hospital continue to provide the most promising therapies and to advance research in all types of childhood cancers, but it will also help support a number of other important programs at Vanderbilt. From players donating tickets and visiting with our patients to fundraising efforts at games, the Nashville Predators organization is 100% engaged with Children’s Hospital, and we are very grateful for its unwavering support.”

Presenting the check for the Nashville Predators will be President/Chief Operating Officer Sean Henry. In attendance at the event will be Nashville Predators forward Martin Erat and goaltender Anders Lindback, Predators mascot GNASH and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt mascot Champ. After the ceremony, Erat and Lindback will visit with patients from Children’s Hospital.

Vanderbilt and the Predators first became strategic partners when they joined forces in 2008, with Vanderbilt signing on as the Predators integrated health care provider. Vanderbilt has long been a prominent fixture within the community and has been recognized for its continued medical excellence and efforts to help its young patients.

Accepting the donation on behalf of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is Dr. John W. Brock III, Monroe Carell Jr. Professor, Director of the Division of Pediatric Urology and Surgeon-in-Chief at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and Dr. Deb Friedman, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, E. Bronson Ingram Chair in Pediatric Oncology, Leader of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Cancer Control and Prevention Program and Director of Division of Hematology-Oncology at Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt."

Throughout the history of the Predators, the organization has personified itself as a caring and active corporate citizen. This donation is on of many that the team makes through fundraising efforts that benefit the Predators Foundation and in turn touch people in our community from all walks of life and in all situations.

Marty Erat, Dr. John Brock, Surgeon in Chief at Monroe Carroll Jr. Children's Hospital, Dr. Deb Friedman, Anders Lindback, Gnash, Champ, and Sean Henry, Chief Operating Officer of the Nashville Predators at the check presentation

Marty Erat and Anders Lindback with Brandi Burton's mother at the check presentation

Champ and Gnash with one of the young patients at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

Ever wonder what mascots talk about when no one is around?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon....

The U.S. stock market has been in turmoil for the past three weeks, with the S&P 500 losing close to 17% in value. Many have seen the balances of their retirement plans or personal investments significantly decline in value. Given that we have a debt ceiling/deficit reduction deal in place, shouldn't everything be blue skies and rainbows? Not exactly. Capital- money- goes where the owners believe they will get the best return on their investment. Return on investment has two critical components: that projected return or gain from making that investment; and, well, the return OF the investment. It does an investor absolutely no good to get a great return if they cannot get their investment back and lose their principal. Capital has flowed out of our investment markets over the past three weeks because the concern is that our nation's fiscal policies will impact negatively the value of the underlying investments. Want an example? Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said this past Sunday on Meet the Press, "The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero possibility of default." That statement is stunning in its audacity and disingenuousness. Don't have enough money? Just print more. Can't exercise any fiscal discipline in Washington? Just print more money. Look at the picture below:

This gentlemen is is a citizen of Zimbabwe and he is holding a $250 million and $100 million Federal Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe note. Think he is rich? Because Zimbabwe adopted the same policies that Greenspan advocated- print all the money you want- inflation in that country was annually increasing at 50% or more, and now that $350 million cannot be used to buy a bread for this man's family. In debasing the currency by printing all the government wanted, the currency became virtually worthless.That is why investment capital (money) does not go into Zimbabwe: the country is run so ineptly there is no guarantee that investment capital will be returned. The United States is not there. Yet. Keep printing dollars, and keep the attitude that it does not matter how much we spend because we can always print more dollars, and we will be closer to Zimbabwe than any of us would have dreamed possible.

They say that money cannot buy you happiness. True enough, but it can buy you the type of misery that you would prefer.

On Monday, President Obama defended the recently passed bill to raise the debt ceiling and said this,
"We reached an agreement that will make historic cuts to defense and domestic spending. But there is not much further we can cut in either of those categories." (emphasis mine)
One of the fundamental conceits of those in Washington is that everything they do and everyone there is essential to the welfare of our nation. I beg to differ. When private sector companies encounter a protracted period of financial difficulty, they begin to downsize, as some all too painfully know, in order to survive. When was the last time you heard of a government agency downsizing? And do you really think all those bureaucrats in Washington are essential. You can go here to see a listing of all federal government jobs, and when you can find an opening for an Associate Administrator of Administration position in the Federal DOT, essentially an administrator that helps coordinate the administration of the layers of bureaucracy, that pays between $119-179,000 one has to believe that we can find quite a bit more to cut out of the massive and bloated federal administration. Washington has shown little seriousness in managing the nations fiscal affairs prudently; neither have they shown an ability to trim the fat and waste out of government at the federal level.Until we as a nation begin to demand that Washington operate more efficiently and with less of our resources, we will continue to struggle with the amount of our money and resources that Washington extracts from the economy.

I'm at a point in my life where enjoying a lot of bars means that I have good cell service.

The markets reacted negatively to the downgrade of U.S. debt from AAA to AA, falling double digits over the past two weeks. Here is why the debt downgrade is important to each of us. Until 1972, every dollar that the United States issued was backed by an equivalent amount of gold. In 1972, by signing the Bretton Woods agreement, Richard Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, simply meaning that our country could print or issue a dollar without the backing of the precious metal. Instead of being backed by gold, the dollar was now backed by the "full faith and credit" of the United States government. We could get away with this because our government was stable and we exercised fiscal restraint in managing our money. Over time, this fiscal diligence has waned and we have printed an extraordinary amount of dollars and Washington has become ever more dysfunctional. The downgrade by Standard and Poor calls into question the full faith and credit- the ability- of the United States to repay our debts on a timely basis and with a sound currency. What this means is that investors in U. S. Treasuries, our debt, will eventually begin to demand higher interest rates because of the additional risk of investing in  our country. As Treasury rates rise, all of us will be affected. Mortgage rates will rise, as will variable rate debts such as credit cards and home equity lines. This will be a further drag on our economy and slow our return to a healthy and vibrant economy. Standard and Poor is the canary in the coal mine, warning us of higher interest rates ahead and an economy that will grow even more slowly.

The only way my body could be "ripped" is if I tore a muscle.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

We have now seen Congress and the President finish their kabuki dance and agree to raise the debt ceiling by another $2.4 trillion. Everyone should be happy and the markets should be copacetic about what has transpired, right? The major U.S. investment indices have lost over 10% in the past 7 trading days as investors have come to realize that this debt deal is not the necessary and painful action that is needed to move our country back onto sound fiscal footing. In fact, once the deal was approved, Congress accessed funds under the new bill and drove our total indebtedness in this country up to a level that matches our total Gross Domestic Product of $14 trillion. This level of indebtedness is unprecedented in our history, and one of the dangers that it presents is that any financial bump in the road that our country encounters will test our ability to meet that financial obligation. Markets have responded accordingly by selling off. A distressed financial situation in this country coupled with a horrifically weak economy means that our financial wherewithal is at capacity, and within 18 months (or less, depending on how profligately Congress spends) we as a nation will be re-visiting this same problem again. And the next time we talk about it, the solutions are going to be even more painful than those we have recently discussed.

My body isn't a temple. It's a maximum security facility for fat cells.

So what is the big deal about a debt ceiling anyway? Here is why it is important. In the history of our country, Congress had to authorize every single bond issue- the public debt- and justify that debt to their constituents. That changed in 1917, when the U.S. faced the need to rapidly issue debt to meet the demands of mobilizing men and materiel for World War I. A "debt ceiling" was created that allowed Congress to authorize an obligation of the United States up to that limit and through which the Treasury Department could not pass in issuing debt. The limits of the obligations of this country were self imposed by Congress and could only be raised by that body. As attitudes toward debt changed, and as politicians saw that having access to the "full faith and credit" of the United States and the pocketbooks of the taxpayers was a good thing for their re-election chances, the discussion and debate over raising the debt ceiling fell away and instead, the "debt ceiling" was automatically raised when the House of Representatives proposed a new budget. What has finally transpired at the national level is what has transpired in so many individual households throughout our country, and it is that we have collectively awakened to the fact that we cannot pay for what we have spent. We have to rein in spending, learn to "live within our means" and realize that the tax burden on working America to pay for all this spending is going to be ridiculously high. And this is where the debt ceiling moves from afterthought for politicians to 10 ton weight pressing down on their re-election chances. Americans have finally awakened to the fact that our leaders have spent wildly and imprudently, and they want it stopped. Enforce the debt ceiling limits and live within your means, say most Americans. And this is painful for politicians, because they no longer have our tax dollars to throw around to further their re-election chances. We will fight this fight again, because we will quickly bump into that debt ceiling. Washington cannot help themselves. Perhaps this best sums up the dilemma that we the people face with many of our elected officials:

You know times are tough economically when your bank returns a check for "Insufficient Funds" and you have to call them and ask if they meant you or them.

Why is fixing - really fixing our country's financial woes essential? Can't we just print more money or raise taxes some more? Yes, we can do those things and they will have an effect, but here is the most important, and most frightening, reason why we need to get our financial house in order: between now and 2017, the number of Americans that have reached retirement age will double, from 35 million to 70 million. What this means is that the cost of our entitlement programs- Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and Obamacare, will double. Perhaps even more importantly,  a very productive component of our nation's workforce will stop producing wealth and income and shift to consuming services and resources. Congress knows this, heck, everyone in Washington knows this. So far, there has been very little honest discussion about the demographic changes that are going to force the political and financial hands of our leaders. We need to have that conversation, and we need to be honest about how we are going to handle these dysfunctional and bankrupt programs. We owe it to these 70 million that are expecting some form of benefit and we owe it to these in the work force that are expected to pay for those benefits. To say we cannot touch these programs or that these programs are "off-limits" is disingenuous if not an outright lie. We have already touched them and created a massive problem. The solutions to fixing those problems will be painful and it will require an honest discussion about the viability of each of these entitlements.

My cousin had an exorcism but couldn't pay for it, so she was re-possessed.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weber, Predators, Emerge from Arbitration; and Who Determines Weber's Future

The Nashville Predators and All Star defenseman Shea Weber emerged from their arbitration hearing with the Predators captain receiving a one year, $7.5 million dollar contract. Not only is Weber now the highest paid Predator player (he should be), but he is also the recipient of the largest arbitration award in the history of the NHL. At the end of this contract, Weber will still be a RFA under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement.

Both Weber and General Manager David Poile held a conference call today to discuss the results of the negotiations and the arbitration process. Weber stated that the relationship that he has with Poile and the team are in his mind, "still solid", and it is his belief that the owners and David Poile are committed to winning a Stanley Cup in Nashville and will do what is necessary to bring the Cup here.

Weber stated that he was not offended by the offer the Predators made in arbitration and that he understood that it is "just business and part of the process." Weber did mention that he did not realize how intense the process was and was glad to have all of this behind him and was ready to just focus on the upcoming season.

For his part, David Poile said that Weber's changing of agents ( to Titan Sports Management and agent Jarrett Bousquet) did not present a tremendous impediment to the negotiating process. Both sides had to get used to each other, but the process was quickly accomplished. Poile said that it was not just dollars and term that were negotiating points with Weber's agent, but also the direction in which the team was moving.

And this is where it gets interesting.

The report I have just given you about the conference call and Weber's signing has been perfunctory up to this point.

The latter part of the call was a time where David Poile, in response to a question about the Predators not doing much in free agency, spoke about his forward group. Poile reiterated his remarks that were made at the Skate of the Union meeting several weeks ago that this young forward group could be very good, better without a few of the veterans that were jettisoned in the off season and ready to elevate their play to another level. Poile has a sincere belief that this group of forwards can lead the Predators to challenge for the Cup.

That point can- and will be- debated by Predator fans throughout the upcoming season.

Here is what is important about this group of forwards as it relates to Weber: if they produce as Poile believes they will, this team could challenge for the Cup. And remember what the three critical negotiating points were between Poile and Weber's agent? Salary, term, and the DIRECTION OF THIS TEAM.

There is no secret that Weber has been a winner at every level and every stop along the way to the NHL. His competitive fires burn white hot. He wants to win the Cup.

If he feels the possibility of doing that will occur in Nashville with this group of players, then I suspect you will see Weber inked to a longer term deal and he will remain a Predator. If the sense on his part is that it will not happen in the foreseeable future in Nashville, then Weber is gone by the trade deadline next season.

So about those forwards...

If they mature and take it to the next level, as Poile believes they can do, this team could become a serious contender for the Cup. If, however, they do not make that next step in their development, this team will continue to struggle offensively.

And that could lead to the exit of Weber from the Predators.

No pressure on this group of forwards, eh?

I have to admire Poile, because he has taken the stance that the team has drafted well and developed players that can do more than compete at the NHL level. They can win. That is what every team wants- good prospects that are developed into NHL caliber players that contribute to winning. Every GM in the League strives to successfully build this model.

Perhaps no GM, however, has as much riding on the success and continued development of their prospects and young roster players as do the Predators. It is they play of this group that will as much as any other factor determine Weber's future in Nashville.

No pressure there, boys.

This team will be competitive with the players they have and the coaching staff. There is no doubt in my mind about that. This team has to go beyond competitive now, if they want to retain players like Weber, and Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne next season. They have to go deep into the playoffs and progress closer to the Cup if not win it outright.

Do that, and you want have to worry about retaining these players.

Fail to do so, and the ability to retain those upper echelon players will become much more difficult.

Not only are Predator fans watching to see if David Poile is right.

So is Shea.