The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Roller Coaster

It's funny.

When Gaylord Entertainment decided to shut down Opryland and pave it over to build a super outlet mall, they took out the only roller coaster in the Metro Davidson County/Nashville area.

Until this past month.

If you were a Predators fan of any degree, the emotional ride that those involved with the team have put us on puts any coaster that was ever at the old amusement park to shame.

The sale of the team was followed up by the long silence on both sides, then the sudden appearance of a "Hamilton Predators Season Tickets" website, and blatant (yet sub rosa) attempts to announce that the team was moving, moving, moving.

Then came the news that the lease was rock-solid... followed up by a statement that $27 million would be all it would take to break the lease. Then an assertion by another source saying no, only the 14k provision would break it. Then that number got tossed around to 14,500.

Then came the news about the local group that apparently had $100 million, and was looking to finance the rest for a buyout. That was followed by a bunch of rumors saying that the group wasn't all that solid, that Leipold wasn't impressed by the people behind it (something to the effect of "civic pride doesn't make for good businessmen"), and then more rumors that another party - probably Boots Del Baggio and the Kansas City group - were planning on upping their bid for the team.

Now it's looking like the deal with Balsillie is all but dead... but the team, assuming it will need to go into rebuilding mode, shocks everyone by trading the rights to captain Kimmo Timonen, home-grown star Scott Hartnell, and all-world goalie Tomas Vokoun away to get a few draft picks to start again from scratch.

The period from May 24th onward to now has never been darker for the Predators franchise - not even in that horrendous period from March through December of 2002, where it seemed nothing could go right for this team.

The only thing that's certain at this point is, it's likely the Predators will be playing in Nashville in 2007-08. Beyond that, there's too many things that could still happen to send this team packing, whether it's to Hamitlon/Waterloo/Kitchener, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, Timbuktu or Baqubah al Jadidah.