The news is coming fast & furious this morning on the Predators front, so here's your quick recap:
Jim Balsillie has rapidly escalated his relocation efforts
by launching a season-ticket drive in Hamilton, alongside his agreement to move the team to Copps Coliseum in the event of Nashville's lease expiring. This has gone far beyond the mere setup of a contingency plan, and by launching this drive now, Balsillie clearly aims to undermine the effort in Nashville
to support the team.
As Damien Cox notes, Balsillie's tactics are becoming increasingly more aggressive
, and are basically setting up a legal battle with the NHL to assert his will to buy the team and move it wherever he likes. This ill-will has already bumped Balsillie off the NHL Board of Governors agenda
for June 20, meaning the sale is extremely unlikely to close before the end of June.
Meanwhile, in Nashville, the prospect of this issue lingering into July and beyond has implications for the Predators' options in the free agent market. While there have numerous stories that GM David Poile is flying blind without a clear budget directive, the Nashville media needs to press harder on this point. Current owner Craig Leipold hasn't gone bankrupt, and should have a "business as usual" number for Poile to work with in the event that Balsillie's sale doesn't go through (which appears more likely by the day). With ticket price increases heading into the fall, and a groundswell in support from the community in an effort to save the team, there's no reason he should have to gut the roster at this point.