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I caught up with Dirk Hoag from On the Forecheck to talk about where things stand in Nashville.
C&B: The Nashville papers are positing that the Predators are in an extremely perilous financial situation, and the underlying tone is that they may eventually be on the move. What's the validity of this?
Dirk: When it comes to on-ice reporting on the Preds, the local papers do a fine job. When it turns to off-ice issues, however, it's an entirely different story. Unfortunately the Tennessean feels the need to run with half-truths and innuendo at the behest of anyone looking to run down the team, whether it's Richard Rodier working for Jim Balsillie, or the Sommet Group, which had stopped paying its arena rights fees.
The bottom line is that by keeping their salary around the 33% mark between the salary cap and floor, and achieving the targets required to get full NHL revenue sharing, the Preds are basically a break-even business at this point. A playoff run would be the best thing for this team both financially and in terms of building the fan base, and that's the one thing they've failed to achieve so far. In a nutshell, I'd say the team is doing OK, but that they've got little margin for error. They can't throw out a lousy team for a decade and expect the team to stay put, like in Chicago or Toronto.
What we're waiting for off the ice is for the Boots Del Biaggio bankruptcy to complete, which would clear the way for Calgary's Brett Wilson to join the ownership group, which should help provide stability.
C&B: The Preds have two 1st-tier goaltenders in Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis, yet both are unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. Will the Preds try to sign one of these guys soon?
Dirk: It sounds like that's something that's going to be looked at after the holidays. The Preds have a history of locking up their core players, and I'm sure they'd at least want to get Pekka Rinne locked up, not just to avoid free agency, but to get rid of the distraction as the team goes through the playoff chase.
C&B: Everybody hates Jordin Tootoo except Preds fans. What does he bring to the team that will be missing while he's out with an injury?
Dirk: Toots has done a good job this season hustling On the Forecheck (smooth plug, no?) and creating turnovers, while being disciplined about it and not taking too many penalties. Besides playing at a 40-point pace (which would have been a career high), he has helped create some goals that he didn't even get an assist on.
C&B: Lastly, Nashville keeps trying these terrible mustard-yellow colors in their uniforms. As you know, we here at The Copper & Blue are big proponents of yellow in uniforms, just not awful mustard-yellow. Is there a chance that Nashville could right the ship and give us some nice non-mustard uniforms that feature yellow?
Dirk: I think you're SOL there for a while. The new 3rd jerseys were noteworthy for not including any yellow (as part of a "Black & Blue" marketing campaign). There are some rumblings that yet another new jersey might be in store for next season, but we'll have to see.
Nashville Predators Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)