Nashville Predators ownership group gives William 'Boots' Del Biaggio the boot

predatorslogo.gifThe history of sports is littered with swaggering, more-talk-than-walk owners, especially in the not-always-financially-stable NHL. Old money guys might not be the most PR-savvy or exciting, but aside from the occasional breakthrough in the form of Mark Cuban, most of the attention-seekers tend to fall on their faces (see: the Tampa Bay Lightning’s former owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie).

So it must come as quite a relief to the Nashville Predators (and their fans) to rid their franchise of William “Boots” Del  Baggio. The team released word that their former partial owner is now completely out of the picture.

Nashville Predators Chairman Tom Cigarran announced today that the Predators ownership group has completed the purchase of the franchise ownership shares previously held by Forecheck Investments, LLC (William “Boots” Del Biaggio previously owned 83% of Forecheck Investments).

The transaction has been approved by all the necessary parties, including the National Hockey League and the Metro Nashville Sports Authority. As a result of the transaction, the local ownership group now owns more than 95% of the franchise ownership shares.

“This is a significant step for the Predators franchise on several levels,” Cigarran said. “First and foremost, it strengthens our franchise’s financial position and eliminates a significant future liability. In doing so, it closes the book on a distraction and allows the Predators and fans to move forward, focusing on what matters most – putting the best possible team on the ice and creating the best possible in-arena atmosphere and entertainment experience. Also, while the franchise was initially known as Nashville’s team because it was created here in Music City, this transaction reinforces that theme as more than 95% of the ownership shares are now held by local residents.”

Considering the team’s need to lay down local roots, it’s great to hear that the team is now 95 percent locally owned. While they are years away from being one of the league’s biggest spending teams (if they ever get to the level), you have to imagine that stable ownership could help the team go from scrappy, defensive-minded overachievers to a club that might actually be able to get past the first round of the playoffs.

The timing is right, too, when you look at the fact that their one true star Shea Weber will be a restricted free agent after next season. Sometimes blue chip players want a stable organization – not just gobs of money – to stay with a team, so this could make a big impact on Weber’s opinion of the club.

And who knows, they might be able to land promising free agents in the future, too.

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    Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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    This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

    The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

    (Watch that goal in the video above.)

    It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

    Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

    Judge for yourself: Was Drouin’s would-be 1-0 goal offside?

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    To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.

    The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.

    As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.

    Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.

    The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)

    Lightning coach believes Drouin ‘is going to be dominant in this league’

    TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders  during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 30, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images)
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    At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.

    At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.

    These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.

    In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.

    ” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”

    Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.

    In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.

    The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.

    WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning – Game 6

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22:  Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning collides with Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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    Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)

    The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.

    Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:

    Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6

    Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee

    Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason

    Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5