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I like it, I love it...

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Two huge developments broke just within the last few hours:

#1: Boots DelBiaggio, who had been in the bidding for the Predators (and would presumably have them relocate to Kansas City) indicated that he's no longer interested in pursuing the team.
#2: Current owner Craig Leipold has informed the NHL that his deal with Jim Balsillie is OFF. That's right, Mr. Blackberry is NOT getting his hands on the Nashville Predators.

Hamilton Predators
That's right, Hamiltonians, emphasize that "maybe".*

I wonder if the local money that's been building will enter into a minority ownership agreement with Leipold at this point. If so, that would make two eerily prescient posts for me in one week, so I guess the next step would be to head to a casino...

Now, I do feel sorry for the hockey fans in Hamilton, who have gotten jilted once again - frankly, southern Ontario would seem to be an ideal expansion market (in my mind, after Hartford and Vegas).

But, I don't feel sorry for the many people who trolled the Predators message boards and other internet forums blasting Nashville as a lost cause. Hockey is on the rise here in Music City, and now the focus can shift towards getting excited about the coming season (granted, there is still the 14,000 mark to be achieved, so work remains).

After all, if the 14,000 mark isn't hit, and the team can break the lease, there's nothing to prevent the team leaving town at that time. At least now, we don't have to worry about a billionaire coming in and weaseling his way out of a legitimate lease. Instead, the burden is on the fan base in Nashville to prove it deserves to be an NHL city. I have every confidence that it will rise to the challenge.

UPDATE: The announcement posted at the Predators website sounds much less definitive than the report from TSN:

"We did send the NHL a letter today requesting that it not do any further due diligence on Jim Balsillie’s offer for the Nashville Predators until we reach a binding agreement. If Jim is interested in reaching a binding agreement, we are prepared to move forward."

So who knows exactly what this means - is Leipold throwing extra conditions into the agreement? Is Balsillie holding off on certain points? We'll have to wait and see...

*Image shamelessly ripped from a comment made by Ben underneath a post over at Mirtle's blog.