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Dickson, TN • United States • 39 Years Old • Male

A Rebuttal...

Posted 10:12 AM ET | Comments 6
Originally posted on PredNation.com

On June 21st, Damien Cox of the Toronto Star, thestar.com, wrote an article discussing the impending Predators sale and the lack of movement by the Board of Governors. What follows is my rebuttal to Mr. Cox.

I was able to read your article entitled Why is Bettman so Scared of Canada?. Let me first say that I generally really enjoy your work. I always enjoy reading about the issues in the hockey world from several perspectives that I respect, and yours is most certainly one of those.

The Scared article certainly presented some perspectives- some with which I agree and others I disagree. I most certainly can’t argue that Bettman can appear disingenuous. I’m not certain if it’s the internal battle of lawyer vs. politician, but his public leadership efforts definitely come off as flat and pandering. If one isn’t careful, however, one could be mislead into believing the man is stupid from your article. In my eyes, I see Bettman as the uber-politician that is the ring leader to thirty other politicians. During his tenure, minus the first labor difficulties in 1995, he has done a really good job at keeping all the owners on “one side of the aisle”, to borrow a piece of American political jargon. He is obviously a respected leader to the owners- even if he would be better suited as the “quiet-type”. I'm not saying all of his policies are successful, but his attempts to keep the owners on his side have been.

While the intent of Bettman’s words is not obvious to many, you can be sure that they are very well calculated. The statement you quoted as your “Example A”, as well as the “not in favor of destabilization” quote, does an excellent job at illustrating just that. One has to keep in mind that a successful sports league in today’s world has to have a high level of franchise stability as well as excellent television contracts to truly thrive. It’s pretty obvious that the league has been pursuing the television contracts for years, but the league has generally shown a decent level of perceived protection of its existing franchises as well. Those two statements by Bettman say publicly that the league is following their own rules and protecting their franchises. You are correct in that it may actually further destabilize the Nashville market. If it does, then Balsillie will get his franchise- in Hamilton no less. If it doesn’t however, or a prolonged legal battle occurs, the league is covered. Jim Balsillie’s intentions are pretty clear and really do not represent a “good faith” try in the current market. It’s also pretty obvious that the City of Nashville is not letting this team go without a fight (assuming Balsillie doesn’t throw a lot of money at Nashville in an attempt to have them go away). Bettman's goal should be to protect the league first, and the franchises second. Having read your articles for some time, my personal belief is you completely understand that and are just trying to make Bettman look silly (to use your words) and pandering to your local audience. I hope not, because your prior work says you are better than that.

As for stating that the league is being so obviously insulting to Balsillie- I don’t see it. If there’s any insulting going on, it’s coming from Balsillie’s side. Given the amount of money Balsillie has offered for the franchise, and his efforts in Hamilton, it’s pretty obvious that Balsillie is attempting to bully the Board of Governors. I don’t know about you, but most people do not like to get bullied. Publicly bullying a group of politicians into allowing you into their circles usually doesn’t work either. Now, it’s very possible that money will talk and Balsillie will eventually get his team (in the form of the Predators). It’s also possible that if the BoG is given another alternative (via AEG, a Nashville owner, or someone else) very close to Balsillie’s offer, that they would move in that direction in order to get the revenue minus the heartburn of Balsillie. Again, I believe you know all of this too.

While I am a fan of the Nashville Predators, I also write for PredNation.com and try to be objective as possible. I also hold no ill will towards Craig Leipold (as my Open Letter to Craig Leipold indicated- which he appreciated), nor do I hold any ill will towards Jim Balsillie. Both men are business men, and are making business decisions. I do believe that Balsillie is not playing the political game correctly. It may, or may not, cost him in the end when it comes to the Predators. I wouldn’t mind the league expanding into Hamilton (with Balsillie as the owner) and Las Vegas (with Bruckheimer as the owner). The league could charge more from the Canadian networks as well as use Bruckheimer’s connections to pursue larger contracts with American networks (hopefully with something like TNT- a network recognized for their sports work and has a HD feed carried by most, if not all, cable and satellite companies).

It’s very possible that I am wrong in my beliefs that you are pandering to your audience, and that you really are underestimating Bettman and the league. If so, I do apologize.

Since your article is in the public domain, I will post this on PredNation.com as well as MyHockeyBuzz. I look forward to reading your future articles.

Thank you.

David Singleton
Filed Under:   Cox   Bettman   Canada   Predators   Balsillie  
June 22, 2007 12:53 PM ET | Delete
David, you said: "but the league has generally shown a decent level of perceived protection of its existing franchises as well." Tell that to the good people of Winnipeg, Quebec City, Hartford...The league has never shown such a thing. If they like a situation (Winnipeg - Phoenix) it will happen. This is not about protecting Nashville, it's about keeping teams in the US (to secure that tv contract that's just around the corner). I don't really see what you found so offensive about Cox's article. By not considering the issue at their meeting, Bettman and the BOG actions have made an unstable situation worse. And if I were a Nashville fan I'd be relieved that Balsillie is at least being open about his intentions (unlike the dork who bought the Grizzlies). Your underlying assumption is that saving the Preds is good for hockey and good for the NHL. I'd be careful with making that assumption about any team...
June 22, 2007 1:40 PM ET | Delete
Thank you for the comments Bill.It's not that I found Mr. Cox's article offensive. It was more that it was an obvious piece of propaganda. Professional writers that write obvious pieces of propoganda hurt their credibility in my eyes. I'm probably old-school in that regard, but I prefer to be as even sided as possible (and I'm no professional writer).I'm also not writing this article with an eye towards keeping the Predators in Nashville- although I would obviously like that to be the case.My rebuttal is focused on Mr. Cox's claims that Bettman's statements following the Board of Governor's meeting were "silly". Bettman's statements were carefully calculated to protect the league. Those statements give the public perception that the league is doing due diligence to ensure that the sale follows all league guidelines. They also ensure that the issue of whether Nashville moves (again, perception) is entirely up to the City of Nashville due to the existence of the lease.What Bettman has done is make the league look good regardless of how it all plays out. If Bettman's statements increase the instablity and Nashville's attendance falls short with the sale going through, then Balsillie can move his team (pending any legalities by the City of Nashville). If Nashville meets their attendance marks and the lease remains, then the league looks good for protecting one of their franchises.I also don't have any underlying assumption that keeping the Predators in Nashville is good for the game and the league. I think that expanding to 32 teams is good for the game and the league. I think that expanding into Las Vegas is good for the game and the league (more long term). I think another Canadian team is good for the game and the league (more short term). Long term, if a significant American television contract can be obtained, the more American franchises, the better. Short term, the more Canadian franchises, the better as that allows the league to charge Canadian networks more. Could Nashville be good for the game and the league in the long term? Yes. Are they good for the game and the league in the short term (meaning without that American TV contract)? No.I honestly can't address the similarities, or lack thereof, with the situations in Winnipeg, Quebec City, Minnesota, Hartford, or Ottawa. I will say that for a league that wants to be seen in the best possible light- they have had way too much franchise instability over the past 17 years.Thank you again for your comments.David SingletonPredNation.com
June 22, 2007 1:41 PM ET | Delete
Yikes! I didn't realize they removed all of the spacing!Sorry that my comments are difficult to read.David
June 22, 2007 6:08 PM ET | Delete
Expansion is a bad idea. The talent is already too diluted. Two more teams means 40-50 players non-caliber players clogging up the neutral zone and making the sport even more unwatchable and therefore unmarketable. The sport has become more tactical in the last fifteen years and therefore harder for non-fans to decipher what is going on. It has gone this way because there are not enough talented players. I have been following hockey for over 30 years and the NHL has been chasing a US contract the whole time. It's not going to happen. It might have with a smaller league with higher talent but not this bloated monster with failing franchises everywhere. The sport doesn't need saving. It is strong where it is strong. Expansion should have been focussed and limited with a view to longterm growth. Two more failing franchises will not help (although it will give each of the others a few tens of millions of dollars).
June 23, 2007 11:37 PM ET | Delete
I think that the Predators should move to Hamilton but be called the Ontario whatever ther nicknameis. Just so they could get the Leafs and the Sens mad.
June 24, 2007 8:41 PM ET | Delete
I for one wouldn't waste my time and monies with a franchise in the NHL. I'm all for starting a new league.. What are your thoughts . with possible owners such as Mr. Balsillie and Mr.Bruckheimer and the fellow from new york who wanted to buy the entire league a couple of years ago.My league would be base in North America in cities such as Winnepeg,Hamilton,Quebec City, Halifax, Boston and Chicago as they so badly need to see good hockey again and Las Vegas and Seattle/Portland. The teams would be made of National teams representing. Canada.. 3 or 4 teams. One west of Ontario.. One of Ontario players and one of players born in Quebec and east as well as a canadian national team. as well. teams representing countries such as Russia/ Sweden.Finland, The chech. republic and the U.S. I would then concentrate on t.v. contracts for the world as a whole rather than depending on the States who obviously just don"t get the excitement hockey offers.
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