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Toronto scribe beats the "Balsillie after Nashville" horse one more time

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Already worked up into a lather over the Phoenix Coyotes situation, David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail plays loose with the facts regarding the Nashville Predators, and tries to revive a tired story:

The Predators bragged this season that they will turn a small profit. But that's only because they squeezed their payroll, bought their own tickets and raked in more than $20-million (all currency U.S.) from their NHL partners in revenue-sharing and escrow payments from the players, in addition to the regular shared NHL revenues like broadcasting.

There is also a bankruptcy court involved with this team. At stake is the share of the team owned by William (Boots) Del Biaggio III before he flamed out into bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to one count of fraud. It is the biggest single slice of the team and would put its winner at the top of the group of owners.

Before Moyes came calling last month, the Del Biaggio shares were Balsillie's preferred target, according to those who know him. They could be again.

  • They squeezed their payroll? 2007-8 payroll - $36.7 million. 2008-9 payroll - $44.8 million. Several long-term contracts were signed with key players last summer.
  • They bought their own tickets? No they didn't - David Freeman floated the idea of the owners buying them if they needed to, but they were warned against it by the league and there's no indication they did such a thing (although if Shoalts is willing to break some news about unusual dealings there, he's welcome to).
  • The Predators have no need to apologize for accepting revenue sharing, escrow funds, and "shared NHL revenues like broadcasting." They earned their full portion of revenue sharing by doing the hard work and selling the game locally.
  • Whoever ends up with "Boots" Del Biaggio's ownership share will not suddenly be "at the top of the group of owners." David Freeman is the chairman of the team; he was so when Del Biaggio was part of the group, and there's no reason for that to change in light of the bankruptcy.

It's too bad Shoalts can't find something else to do while waiting on the court in Phoenix than stir up old sentiments against Nashville.