The Nashville plot thickens
I don't know if the recent report in
"Boots bragged to me that he was able to convince Bettman's office to overlook the need for his audited financial statements because it was too much work," Bergeron is quoted as saying.
Now, understand that this is one man's word. The NHL, through a statement issued by Deputy Commissioner
But what Bergeron is saying -- and what Del Biaggio may someday have to testify about in court if the matter gets that far -- is that the NHL's much-touted financial checks were somehow bypassed or, at the very least, substantially reduced when it came to Del Biaggio buying a minority stake in the Predators. That stake was said to have been the cash necessary to complete a deal with local investors and keep the team in Nashville. But beneath the surface, questions are raised as to whether the NHL had Nashville's best interests firmly in mind.
Bergeron said that Del Biaggio told him in December that Commissioner
If true, this is important because, as
Del Biaggio filed the bankruptcy petition to protect himself from claims against Anschutz. Former Preds owner
Earlier this week, the paper
However, there are clauses in the agreement that would allow the team to be moved after five years, according to Nashville mayor
There is much to be sorted out here, for sure, but no matter how you draw it, this is not a pretty picture for the NHL. Under fire for its apparent lack of scrutiny with regard to Del Biaggio, the league has resisted claims that it brought him to the table to thwart an offer from Canadian-based billionaire
Ballsillie's agents have claimed that he submitted a substantially higher bid to then-Preds owner Leipold, but was rebuffed in favor of a lower bid by local interests and Del Biaggio. Once the Nashville deal was closed, Leipold purchased the Minnesota Wild and was approved as that team's new owner -- leaving Del Biaggio and friends with a franchise he may have been hoping to move to a location more acceptable to the league: Kansas City.
Did simple haste in attempting to block Balsillie ultimately deliver a public relations black eye? Was the league napping while Del Biaggio tried to stick his hand in the Nashville cookie jar? How could the NHL fail to recognize the precarious state of his finances? Were Predators fans and their community gulled from the start while the team was ultimately being primed for a league-approved move?
If Boot Del Biaggio was the only problem the league had with Nashville, it would be more than enough. However, the signing of
Radulov last week signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with the Continental League seemingly just hours after it and the NHL had agreed to honor each other's contracts while an expired transfer agreement is being renegotiated. It's not clear how this will be decided, but Nashville is certain that Radulov is their contracted player and if there isn't some sort of agreement that respects the contract that Nashville had with the budding star, it's likely that an all-out war between the two leagues could erupt.
The International Ice Hockey Federation is expected to get involved, a decision which could impact whether contracts are respected by all the hockey-playing nations in the federation. It's expected the IIHF will be pressured by the NHL to deny Radulov permission to play in the upcoming Olympics and other international competitions until the matter is resolved.
It's hard to see the dismissal of coach
Nolan had a year left on a contract that saw him deliver an undeserving team to the playoffs in his first year and just miss with a lightly talented squad that was riddled with injuries in his second. Snow, who took off his goalie pads to become the interim GM after Nolan was hired in 2006 by owner
It was a small-minded move on the part of Snow (who, by the way, had his interim label lifted shortly after the firing) and it's hard to imagine any kind of real leadership in a franchise that seems to change day by day regarding the mood of Wang. In the end, it is Wang who has put the
And there is no end in sight. Just ask Nolan,