Preds Owner-to-be Not Being Subtle About Intentions
So Jim Balsillie is apparently not allowed to comment about the sale, the team, or his intentions, until the sale is approved (or final, or some other league stipulation). So we have to wait a while to hear from his mouth what he plans to do with the team.
Meanwhile, his actions are actually speaking volumes. This story at TSN quotes the Hamilton Spectator, and tells of how Balsillie went last week to the city of Hamilton (near Toronto) and struck a deal for exclusive rights to bring an NHL franchise to the city.
See what I mean about the "not being subtle about his intentions" thing? The commissioner can say all he wants to try and reassure fans--and maybe Bettman really would prefer the team to stay here. Regardless... Balsillie can do what he wants once the lease with the city is out of the way. And there are a number of ways for the lease to be done away with--not just the attendance clause.
I believe that any stipulations the league puts on the sale of the franchise related to relocation will only apply as long as there is a lease with the city of Nashville. Once that lease is voided, bought out, opted out, or otherwise done... this team is gone. From the Tennessean article that had the headline proclaiming Bettman had said the Preds would stay:
Balsillie would have to sign a consent agreement with the NHL, including a clause that prevents a new owner from relocating the team for seven years. But an arena lease would have to be in effect to force the new owner to follow that league requirement.So, the lease is a necessity to keep the new owner from bolting.
Why would the guy buying the team make a deal to bring a team to Canada other than "because he plans to move our team to Canada?" I mean, do you think Balsillie is buying two NHL franchises and plans to keep the Preds here but move his other new purchase to Hamilton?
Do not be fooled by the commissioner or anyone else making vague statements about keeping the team in Nashville. I am taking up the mantle of the pessimistic, nay-saying, "sky is falling" Preds fan: our team is leaving, and there's nothing we can do to stop it.