Nashville Predators

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Posted by sonny 03/10/2009 @ 01:09

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Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators are a professional ice hockey team based in Nashville, Tennessee. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). They play their home games at Sommet Center, formerly known as Gaylord Entertainment Center and Nashville Arena.

Hockey first appeared in Middle Tennessee in 1962 in the form of the Eastern Hockey League's Dixie Flyers. One of the first tenants of the Municipal Auditorium, the Dixie Flyers played for nine seasons before folding in 1971. A decade later, Nashville Sounds owner Larry Schmittou made a second attempt at minor league hockey in Nashville when he brought the Nashville South Stars to town for the 1981-82 season. While featuring Bob Suter (Miracle on Ice team member and father of Nashville Predator Ryan Suter) as well as several of the parent club Minnesota North Stars' prospects, the franchise folded after just two seasons. In 1989, the ECHL Nashville Knights, perhaps the most popular of the minor league franchises, came to town. Coached by Predators assistant Peter Horachek, the Knights featured a potent offense that in 1994 set an ECHL record with 16 goals in one game.

In 1995, rumors began to circulate that the New Jersey Devils would be relocating to the planned Nashville Arena. Nashville offered a $20 million relocation bonus to any team that would relocate, and the Devils attempted to terminate their lease with New Jersey before finally restructuring it to stay put.

After the attempt to get the Devils, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman noted that Nashville would probably at least be considered in upcoming expansion..

In January 1997, a group led by Minnesota businessman Craig Leipold made a formal presentation before the NHL requesting an expansion franchise. When Bettman and league officials visited Nashville to tour the arena, thousands gathered on the Arena plaza to greet them. In June, the league granted conditional franchises to Nashville, Columbus, Atlanta and Minnesota. The Nashville team would be scheduled to begin play in 1998 if they met the NHL requirement of selling 12,000 season tickets before March 31, 1998. Of the four cities, Nashville was the only one with a completed arena, and therefore began play first. A month later, Leipold named former Washington Capitals general manager David Poile as the franchise's first general manager. Portland Pirates head coach Barry Trotz was named the franchise's first head coach on August 6.

On September 25, 1997, Leipold and team president Jack Diller held a press conference where they unveiled the franchise's new logo, a sabertooth cat (Smilodon floridanus). The logo was a reference to a partial Smilodon skeleton found beneath downtown Nashville in 1971, during construction of the First American National Bank building, now the Regions Center (Nashville).

Once the logo was unveiled, the franchise held a vote among fans to choose a name. Three candidates were culled from 75: Ice Tigers, Fury and Attack. Leipold added his own submission to the vote, Predators. On November 13, Leipold revealed at a press conference that his submission had won out and that the new franchise would be known as the Nashville Predators..

As of January, however, the Predators were still at least 6,000 tickets short of the NHL imposed 12,000 season ticket goal. Rumors began to circulate that the team would move before the first puck ever hit the ice. One rumor had Leipold trading franchises with the Edmonton Oilers, with the Oilers moving to Nashville and the Nashville expansion franchise moving to Houston, Texas. Leipold shot this rumor down, "There is no chance"..

When awarded a franchise, the Predators got a very lucrative deal. The city of Nashville paid 31.50% of the $80-million fee to join the league. The city also absorbs operating losses from the arena, despite the fact that the Sommet Center is operated by a subsidiary of the team.

The Predators first took the ice on October 10, 1998, where they lost 1-0 at home to the Florida Panthers. Three nights later, on October 13, they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3–2 for their first win. Forward Andrew Brunette scored the first goal on a play that was reviewed by the video goal judge.

The Predators, in their first year of existence, finished second-last in the Western Conference with a 28–47–7 record, ahead of the Vancouver Canucks.

The Predators finished with an almost identical record to the previous season (28–47–7–7) and finished last in the West behind the Calgary Flames. During a game versus the New York Islanders on February 20, 2000, the Predators scored four goals in 3 minutes and 38 seconds.

The Predators opened with two games in Japan against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Each team won a game in front of the largest crowds ever to see a hockey game in Japan. Backed by the goaltending duo of Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun, Nashville finished the season in tenth place in the West, 10 points out of a playoff spot with a 34–36–9–3 record, for 80 total points.

A highlight of the season for the Predators was recording their 100th victory as a franchise on December 6, 2001. With that win, Nashville became the second-fastest expansion team of the 1990s to reach the 100-win plateau. The team was especially unlucky in overtime, finishing with a 28–41–13–0 record – good for 69 points and a 15th spot in the West.

In 2002–03, coach Barry Trotz broke the record for most games coached by the original coach of an expansion team (392 games). Nashville finished the season with a 27–35–13–7 record for 74 points, putting them well out of contention in the Western Conference in 14 place.

The Predators, under coach Barry Trotz, finished eighth in the Western Conference and made their first trip to the playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings beat them in six games in the quarterfinal.

The 2004–05 season was locked out by a labor dispute between the owners and players.

In 2005–06, the Predators set an NHL record by winning their first four games by one goal each (although two of those were shootout victories, which would have been tie games in previous seasons). They also became only the fourth NHL franchise to start the season 8–0; the last time a team did so was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who set the mark with a 10–0 start in 1993. The Predators set the franchise mark for wins in a season with a 2–0 shutout of the Phoenix Coyotes on March 16, 2006. In that match, Chris Mason became the ninth goaltender to score a goal. By the end of the season, the Predators had accumulated 106 points—their first 100-point season—and clinched home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in team history. They finished the season with an NHL-best 32–8–1 record at home.

In the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Predators faced the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Sharks beat them in five games.

The Predators acquired veteran center Jason Arnott from free agency on July 2, 2006. Arnott and David Legwand led the team in goals with 27 each. Late in the season the Predators traded two former first round draft picks Scottie Upshall and Ryan Parent, plus their first-round pick and a third-round pick in the 2007 draft, to the Philadelphia Flyers for five-time NHL all-star Peter Forsberg.

The Predators finished the season in fourth place in the Western Conference with 110 points, a franchise record. They were defeated by the San Jose Sharks in the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs Western conference quarter-finals for the second year in a row, losing the series 4 games to 1, for the second straight season.

They had the third best season overall behind the Buffalo Sabres, and the Detroit Red Wings.

After having their roster decimated during the off-season, multiple potential buyers, and rumors of the franchise potentially moving hounding the team until almost mid-season, the Predators were not expected to have a successful year. Chris Mason, former backup goaltender to Tomas Vokoun (who was traded to the Florida Panthers) had a shaky season, and shared net-minding duties with Dan Ellis. Ellis, who was signed from the Dallas Stars before the season began had a 233:39 long shutout streak (fifth longest in league history) nearing the end of the season that helped Nashville squeak into the eighth playoff spot with 91 points.

The Predators met the President's Trophy winning (and eventual Stanley Cup winners) Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, and were defeated 4 games to 2 – their fourth straight first round knockout.

On May 23, 2007, Craig Leipold was reported to have reached a tentative agreement to sell the team to the Chairman and Co-CEO of Research In Motion, Jim Balsillie. At the time, Leipold indicated that the team would play the 2007-08 season in Nashville but that the future of the team after that was not clear. Balsillie had long been rumored to be interested in placing another team in Southern Ontario. The deal was expected to be finalized by late-June and had to be finished by June 30, 2007. The proposed re-location site was Hamilton, Ontario, with Balsillie's new company, Golden Horseshoe Sports & Entertainment (named after the portion of Southern Ontario centred around the west-end of Lake Ontario, which is known as the Golden Horseshoe), securing exclusive rights to bring an NHL team to Copps Coliseum, as well as the rights to operate Hamilton Place, the Hamilton Convention Centre, and the associated parking facilities for the next 20 years. Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger stated that Balsillie's intention was to bring an NHL team to Copps in Hamilton, and it was reported that Basillie would invest $140 million into the arena to bring it to modern NHL standards. Relocating to Hamilton, however, may have required compensation to be offered to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres because those teams have territorial rights to the region. Despite rumors to the contrary, it was reported that Kitchener-Waterloo was not being considered as a possible location for the team.

On June 13, it was announced that season ticket deposits for the "Hamilton Predators" would begin to go on sale through Ticketmaster the next day. A source said Balsillie's objective was to show the league's governors that there is a large base of ticket buyers in Southern Ontario. After the drive started, over 13,000 season ticket deposits were sold, including all of the 70 available corporate box deposits, costing $5,000 each. At the time, there were just under 9,000 season ticket holders in Nashville.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty stated the provincial government was willing to consider offering financial support if the team relocated to Hamilton. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky, a member of the NHL Board of Governors through his ownership of the Phoenix Coyotes, openly supported the team's move to Hamilton, stating that an NHL team in Hamilton would be tremendously successful.

On June 23, information was leaked by several sources indicating that Leipold no longer wanted to sell the Predators to Basillie. Leipold responded indirectly advising that a deal with Basillie was still possible. Mr. Basillie's lawyer, Richard Rodier, was quoted as saying Craig Leipold's letter to the NHL "changed little if anything" in regards to the pending sale and was a mere formality as part of the sale process. Canadian insiders believed that the information and delay tactics may have been because the league did not want a team to move to Canada, something the NHL denies. Meanwhile, at least one NHL governor referred to Basillie as a "clown" for taking deposits in Hamilton without having the ability to move the Predators and after making a joint statement with Liepold that there was no plan to move the club. This continued a pattern established by Balsillie previously when he withdrew his offer to buy the Penguins after promising to keep the team in Pittsburgh with no intention of fulfilling that promise.

On July 19, 2007, a group of local business owners known as Our Team Nashville held a rally at the Sommet Center to encourage fans to buy season tickets in order to help the Predators meet the attendance figures needed to keep the team in Nashville. They drew approx 7,500 fans and sold the equivalent of 726 full season tickets during the rally. The rally was heavily supported by WGFX 104.5 "The Zone" sports radio in Nashville.

On August 1, 2007, the group who had intentions to keep the team in Nashville delivered a letter of intent from Craig Leipold. After protracted negotiations with the city of Nashville, the local group headed by David Freeman reached an agreement with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, and the NHL Board of Governors approved the sale on November 29, 2007. The $172 million acquisition of the Nashville Predators included repayment of existing debt of approximately $61 million and $2.2 million in fees and expenses.

If by the end of the 2009/10 season, the team loses at least $20 million or more in cash flow and does not average 14,000 per game in average attendance, the team can break its lease with the city of Nashville by paying a $20 million breaking fee. If the team is to be moved or sold, multiple cities could bid hard to attract an NHL team--Hamilton, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Houston, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Winnipeg and Portland, Oregon among others, although subsequent general economic conditions may have a material adverse effect on the interest or ability of individuals to purchase the team. These potential cities could be required to offer exceptional arena deals for an NHL team and face the challenge of trying to deliver a fan base superior to that in Nashville. Changes to the lease with the city that were deemed necessary by the ownership to keep the team viable were eventually passed on April 15th, 2008.

It was widely assumed that Del Biaggio's long term goal remained the ownership of a club in Kansas City whether this team be the Predators, another existing team or an expansion franchise.

In June 2008 Del Biaggio ran into legal trouble over a multitude of unpaid loans, culminating in him filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Furthermore, it is alleged that Del Biaggio acquired the loans he used to buy his stake in the team through fraudulent means, prompting an FBI investigation and criminal charges.

Under United States bankruptcy law a trustee was appointed sell Del Biaggio's assets, including his stake in the Predators to pay off his creditors. One report indicated that, perhaps as a last ditch attempt to avoid bankruptcy Del Biaggio solicited an offer from Balsillie to buy his stake in the team at a "significant premium". That deal was said to have collapsed after the NHL and/or the local group either blocked it outright or at least insisted on the annulment of all concessions given to Del Biaggio prior to any transfer of the stake to Balsillie.

Major North American sports leagues are expected to exercise "due diligence" before allowing anyone to acquire a large stake in a franchise, so Del Biaggio's bankruptcy is considered to be a serious public relations setback for the league. Furthermore, the commencement of bankruptcy proceedings arguably could affect the rights of the league and the other Predators owners to block the sale of Del Biaggio's stake to the highest bidder. Depending on the circumstances, a party could argue that the constitution and by-laws of the NHL could be superseded if a bankruptcy court determined that the league was trying to enforce its rules in a manner detrimental to the creditors' interests, although it is entirely unclear whether such an argument could succeed. Predators' owners disagree completely with this theory.

On February 24, 2009, Calgary billionaire W. Brett Wilson has entered discussions with Predators majority owner David Freeman with intentions to invest in their third sports franchise together. Wilson confirms that progress has been made in his plans to invest in the team, with a "handshake agreement" but to date, nothing in writing. The long disputed 27 per cent share that belonged to minority shareholder William J. "Boots" Del Biaggio III, is expected to be purchased by Wilson, with his eventual share in the Predators to be "nominal".

The Predators have announced that the team is expected to turn a small profit for the 2008-09 season despite the serious global economic downturn, and attendance is expected to exceed an average of 14,000 paid tickets per game.

The team practices at Centennial Sportsplex. For the 2007–08 season, the Predators updated their jerseys with new striping. The logo was left unchanged, and the colors were left unchanged. Nashville was added to the 'away' jerseys above the logo.

Fans of the Nashville Predators have modified a tradition of the Detroit Red Wings to show their support: on occasion, a fan will throw a catfish onto the ice. The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville cites the first instance of this on October 30, 2003. At least four catfish were thrown onto the ice after the first Nashville goal on November 13, 2003.

Section 303 is a section of notoriously fervent fans at the Sommet Center colloquially known as "The Cellblock". The group refers to themselves as "the loudest section of the loudest arena in the NHL". While no reports of relative sound pressure levels have been cited by the group, the section's predetermined motivating and demoralizing chants towards the home and visiting teams respectively can be heard from many locations within the arena.

The entirely fan-based organization has been recognized by the Predators' front office. A large banner was produced by the front office for posting on the wall behind the section. The organization maintains a website where chants tailored to the opponent can be reviewed before the game. The group also makes available merchandise through CafePress that reflects the Cellblock's brazen and supportive attitude.

The mascot of the Predators is Gnash, a blue saber-toothed cat. Introduced in 1998, his trademark includes stunts, such as very fast rappels, zip lines and a pendulum swing that takes him under the scoreboard and just inches off the ice.

Updated February 27, 2009.

Hall of Famers: The Predators do not have a Hockey Hall of Fame member from their team.

Retired numbers: The Predators have not retired any numbers. However, Wayne Gretzky's number 99 was retired league-wide at the 2000 NHL All-Star Game on February 6, 2000.

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

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List of Nashville Predators head coaches

The Predators have played their home games at the Sommet Center since their inaugural season.

The Nashville Predators are an American professional ice hockey team based in Nashville, Tennessee. They play in the Central Division of the Western Conference in the National Hockey League (NHL). The team joined the NHL in 1998 as an expansion team. The Predators have played their home games at the Sommet Center, formerly known as the Gaylord Entertainment Center, and before that the Nashville Arena, since their inaugural season. The Predators are owned by Predators Holdings LLC, David Poile is their general manager, and Jason Arnott is the team captain.

There has been one head coach for the Predators franchise. The team's head coach is Barry Trotz, who has a record of 738 regular-season games coached, 324 regular-season games won, 754 regular-season points, a .511 regular-season winning percentage, 22 playoff games coached, 6 playoff games won, and a .273 playoff winning percentage with the Nashville Predators.

Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 2007–08 season.

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2004–05 Nashville Predators season

The 2004–05 Nashville Predators season would have been their 7th National Hockey League season, however it was cancelled as the 2004–05 NHL lockout could not be resolved in time to save the season.

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2006–07 Nashville Predators season

The 2006–07 Nashville Predators season was the 8th National Hockey League season in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Predators, looking to get past the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history, bulked up their roster by signing star forward Jason Arnott, whose 76 points in 2005–06 was second on the Dallas Stars. With returning forwards Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan, and the acquisition of Arnott and J.P. Dumont, the Predators were predicted to challenge the Detroit Red Wings for top spot in the Central Division.

Although the Predators were leading the Central when the 55th National Hockey League All-Star Game was played in Dallas, Texas, only one Predator player was named to the Western Conference team. Defenceman and team captain Kimmo Timonen played in his second All-Star game. Head coach Barry Trotz served as an assistant coach for the Western Conference.

The attendance in Nashville had been a topic of much media debate all season long, with the Predators' attendance being in the bottom third of the league despite the team leading its division for most of the season. There had been much speculation in February about a clause in the Predators lease with the city that could force the city of Nashville to buy $2 million worth of tickets for the Predators in the 2007–08 season if the team failed to reach a paid average attendance of 14,000. After 21 home games, the Predators were only averaging 12,766 in paid attendance. Team owner Craig Leipold had also announced that he was looking to sell up to 40% of the team to local interests; however, he found no immediate takers.

In February, the Predators acquired forward Peter Forsberg from the Philadelphia Flyers for Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent and two draft picks. The deal paid immediate dividends at the gate: the Predators announced they had sold 3,500 tickets for their games in the first day after the trade was announced.

The Predators finished the season with a franchise-record 110 points, with 51 wins, and earned a fourth place seed in the Western Conference quarterfinals in the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They then lost to the San Jose Sharks in 5 games in the Quarterfinals.

On May 23, 2007, Craig Leipold was reported to have reached a tentative agreement to sell the team to the Chairman and Co-CEO of Research In Motion, Jim Balsillie. According to Leipold, the team is likely to play the 2007–08 season in Nashville, but the future of the team after that is not clear. Balsillie has been rumored to be interested in placing another team in Southern Ontario.

The Nashville Predators ended the 2006–07 regular season as the Western Conference's fourth seed.

The Predators have been involved in the following transactions during the 2006–07 season.

Nashville's picks at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Predators traded their first round pick, thus their first selection was in the 2nd round, 56th overall.

The Milwaukee Admirals are Nashville's top affiliate in the American Hockey League in 2006–07, and the New Mexico Scorpions are the Central Hockey League affiliate.

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2007–08 Nashville Predators season

The 2007–08 Nashville Predators season began October 4, 2007. It was the Nashville Predators ninth season in the National Hockey League.

The 2007 offseason was dominated by the attempted purchase of the Predators by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who signed a letter of intent to purchase the team for at least $220 million. The attempted sale led to widespread speculation that Balsillie intended to relocate the team to Hamilton, Ontario if the Predators failed to reach a 14,000 paid average attendance in 2007–08, allowing the team to break its lease. Balsillie had already entered negotiations on a lease at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. Despite calling the negotiations a "contingency plan", Balsillie petitioned the league to decide on his ability to relocate the franchise at the same time the Board of Governors voted on his purchase of the team. However, the deal was ended by Leipold on June 22, as he informed the league that he was pulling out of the agreement due to a lack of a finalized sale agreement, and over concerns that Balsillie would relocate the team to Hamilton.

On August 1, a group led by local businessman David Freeman issued a letter of intent to purchase the Predators.. The sale was approved by the Board of Governors on November 29.

In January, it was revealed that former Predators owner Craig Leipold was purchasing the majority share in the Minnesota Wild.

Red Wings win series 4–2.

The Predators have been involved in the following transactions during the 2007–08 season.

Nashville's picks at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in Columbus, Ohio. The Predators possess the 23rd overall pick in the draft. The pick was originally traded to the Philadelphia Flyers when the Predators acquired Peter Forsberg. Nashville re-acquired the pick, however, on June 18 in exchange for Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen.

The Milwaukee Admirals are the Predators top affiliate, playing in the American Hockey League in 2007–08.

The New Mexico Scorpions remain the Predators affiliate in the Central Hockey League.

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Source : Wikipedia