As you have probably all heard by now, it seems Jim Basille (of RIM) is planning on buying the Nashville Predators. The thing is, Basille has very little interest in owning the Nashville Predators, he wants to own the Waterloo Blackberries (name made up by me). But this is where things get complicated regarding the Predators lease agreement on their arena. There seems to be an opt out clause in the lease if paid attendance averages under 14,000, but the city has the option of ‘topping’ up that number to 14,000 to ensure the team stays. Estimates on paid attendance have been as low as 12,000 for this past season.
So, knowing Basille wants to move the team and needs low attendance to break the lease to do that, what incentive does Basille have in maintaining a $40 million payroll to ice a good, entertaining team and lose money in the process? Right, very little. His only interest would be to keep young players that will be good players when he gets his team to Waterloo a couple years from now. So, say goodbye to unrestricted free agents Kimmo Timonen, Paul Kariya, and Peter Forsberg. But why stop there? Why not trade Steve Sullivan for a prospect or draft pick. He certainly won’t be around to play 3 years downt he road. Or he could trade high priced players like Tomas Vokoun, Jason Arnott and Marek Zidlicky.
The Nashville payroll was pushing close to $40 million this past season and were one of the better teams in the league. Don’t be surprised if it is $8-10 million lower (closer to the league minimum threshhold) next season with a team that may struggle to make the playoffs.