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Thursday's notes: Reading the tea leaves

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Press conferences are funny things. One the one hand, they are a public relations exercise by an organization, intended to get a message out there. On the other hand, the media are tasked with parsing the words as carefully as they can, digging for any statements deemed to be more substantive than "I'm optimistic" or "I love playing in Nashville". Since we're not likely to have any other interviews following up on yesterday's $7.5 million arbitration award to Shea Weber, we're left to consider only the actions of recent weeks, and what the two sides said yesterday.

Is this a case of a superstar wanting to see if his team can take the next step and assemble a Cup contending squad, not just relying on "the Predator Way" which hasn't really gotten them close yet?  Or perhaps a team that was trying to pinch pennies too hard, alienating their captain as a result?

When it comes to such matters, I stick with the old axiom, "actions speak louder than words," and the fact that the two sides ended up in front of the arbiter speaks volumes.

What I'd really like to know is what was going through Weber's mind as David Poile spoke at length about his belief in the current group of Predator forwards, and their ability to contend for a Cup. It's only natural for a GM to have confidence in players that he's drafted or otherwise acquired, and for a captain to express support for them as well. But would any independent observer really look at Nashville's forwards as an area of relative strength in the NHL? I just don't see it.

Follow after the jump as a number of learned observers provide their take on the situation, along with the rest of your morning hockey news...

Nashville Predators News

The View from 111: Weber, Predators, Emerge from Arbitration; and Who Determines Weber's Future
So... it sounds like the chances for Nashville to hang onto stars like Weber, Suter & Rinne hinges on how well the young forwards live up to Poile's belief in their abilities. *gulp*

If Predators aren’t Cup worthy, Shea Weber’s leaving Nashville - Puck Daddy
I don't see this so much as an ultimatum by Weber, but just an opportunity for Poile. The fact that they couldn't even get a one-year deal done to avoid arbitration speaks to something deeper than just declining to make a long-term commitment right now, and seeing what kind of team gets put together.

Weber lands record $7.5-million arbitration award - The Globe and Mail
James Mirtle breaks down the bigger arbitration award ever, and compares it to other contracts around the league.

NHL executive: Nashville Predators have 'no choice' but to consider Shea Weber trade - Sporting News
Like I said earlier, get the word out to GM's now, and let them think during their August vacation about how nice it would be to have Weber on their blueline.

Ominous cloud hung over Poile and Weber’s conference call - Nashville Predators Examiner
Jim Diamond sees a departure likely within the next two years, too.

Preds On The Glass: David Poile and Shea Weber Hold a Joint Conference Call after Arbitration Award (Audio)
Buddy's got the audio from yesterday's media call.

The 303:30 – David Poile, Shea Weber address the media
...and Jeremy turned the media call into a podcast, with his take included as well.

Preds On The Glass: POTG Thursday Headlines, News, and Links: Shea Weber Day in Smashville
Buddy's morning roundup is full of Weber-mania.

Nashville’s Big Three Threatened " Music City Mindset
The Shea Weber drama throws a monkey wrench into the plans to sign Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne.

Smashville 24/7: Weber: No hard feelings from arbitration
All the right things were said yesterday, but what else were they going to do?

Shea Weber is Back in the House - Nashville Predators
Tom Callahan whistles past the graveyard here, looking ahead to the on-ice lineup this fall.

Welcome to the pro sports market - The Daily News Journal
Here's a bit of a funny take by Greg Pogue...

The Checking Line - Positive Spin on Weber Situation
For those looking for a silver lining, here you go.

Around the NHL

Shea Weber is worth $7.5M. What's Drew Doughty worth? - Inside the Kings
Los Angeles fans are now wondering just how much their flashy young blueliner will cost.

Not surprising: Nikolay Zherdev signs in Russia - Broad Street Hockey
Well, so much for that idea.

Sharks sign D Colin White to one-year deal that costs San Jose $1 million | Working the Corners
Shortly after getting bought out by the Devils, Colin White lands in San Jose.

Have Recent Re-signings Set the Market for Jordan Staal? - PensBurgh
Pittsburgh may have a tough time keeping their Selke-nominated center under contract next summer.

Redefining the New Panthers: Jose Theodore - Litter Box Cats
As Florida moves into the post-Vokoun era, can the former MVP hold down the fort?