After years of financial struggles, Predators have turned the corner with refinanced debt

A few years back when William “Boots” Del Biaggio rode into Nashville to play the role of “savior” of the Predators, he was hailed as a financial genius who would be able to give the franchise the financial stability in the front office they were looking for to help keep the team locked down in Music City. After all, they had just done the dance with BlackBerry guru Jim Balsillie and they were vulnerable.

Then it turned out that Del Biaggio didn’t actually have any money and turned a bad situation even worse by putting the Predators further into the hole. Craig Leipold and and a group of local investors swooped in to save the day and while the Predators have been stable for sometime since then, especially now that they’re consistently winning games, there was still that nagging cloud of debt thanks to Boots’ mismanagement. In order to buy the team, they had to buy up Boots’ shares first, this led to taking out a $75 million loan to help secure the team for themselves.

People in Nashville can breathe a bit easier now because the team’s ownership has refinanced that debt to help make it easier for them to pay it back and get the Predators onto solid financial ground. Nate Rau of The Tennessean has the update on how the Predators may finally be able to be called a financially stable franchise in the south.

The ownership group purchased the Del Biaggio shares in September and began seeking refinancing partners shortly thereafter. Morgan Joseph and Avondale Partners served as financial advisers for the team.

“We had a real problem with our balance sheet, which was cobbled together in an emergency fashion to save the team back in 2007,” [Predators chairman Tom] Cigarran said. “I’m not being critical. If we didn’t come up with the money to buy the team in a very short period of time, there wasn’t going to be a team.”

Cigarran said that with the refinancing out of the way, he would like to begin searching for new investors in the coming weeks. The hope is to find local investors, but Cigarran said the ownership group would look outside of the Nashville area, as well.

Hearing these details shows what a desperate time it was for the franchise and now that they’re clearing the path towards stability the Predators are becoming a shining example of how it takes patience to make things work in a new market in the NHL. This is the kind of success story some are hoping will become the example for those in Arizona and Atlanta can follow. For now though, hockey is alive and well in Nashville and now people can stop talking about how the Predators are a prime candidate for relocation.

Just about every relevant team in the East playoff races won tonight

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After Eastern Conference teams deserved a “C” on Monday, they generally passed Tuesday’s tests with flying colors. Sometimes they carved out three-point games when relevant teams faced off, too.

It’s almost bewildering trying to figure out where to start … so how about the top of the East?

Metro’s rich get richer

The Minnesota Wild deserve credit for fighting back from a considerable deficit, including overcoming an Alex Ovechkin hat trick (all on the power play). Ultimately, T.J. Oshie‘s overtime-winner gave Washington the 5-4 (OT) win.

Elsewhere in the Metro’s top ranks, Sergei Bobrovsky grabbed his 41st win of the season (3-1 win against the Sabres) to put Columbus three points behind the Capitals and two ahead of the idle Penguins.

Metro top three (all with 75 games played)

1. Capitals – 108 points
2. Blue Jackets – 105 points
3. Penguins – 103 points

Canadiens gain ground

The Montreal Canadiens handled the Dallas Stars 4-1 in The Epic Battle of the Benns. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the second-place Senators 3-2 via a shootout

Both the Maple Leafs and Bruins won their games, leaving Toronto one point ahead of Boston for third in the Atlantic.

Atlantic top five

1. Canadiens – 95 points in 76 games played
2. Senators – 91 points in 75 GP
3. Maple Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP

Finally, let’s look at the final spot in the East

OK, so there’s some overlap here. Why don’t we check on the most wild-card-relevant teams?

Third Atlantic spot: Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Final spot: Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 82 points in 75 GP
Flyers – 80 points in 76 GP
Panthers – 77 points in 76 GP

Again, the Bruins won, as did the Flyers. The Lightning were idle. The Panthers fell to the Maple Leafs. Buffalo lost while Detroit and New Jersey are out of the running.

You know who deserves special mention outside of the top eight? The Carolina Hurricanes deserve such a distinction, as they are enjoying one of their hottest runs in franchise history after beating Detroit 4-1.

The overall message: just about any truly relevant team at least grabbed a standings point, with most winning games outright on Tuesday.

It doesn’t exactly thin the herd, but it keeps the door open for a fun race to the finish.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here:

Here’s what deal between women’s team, USA hockey is reportedly worth

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It’s great news that the U.S. women’s national team and USA Hockey came together on a deal for the upcoming world championships.

Still, all we really know is that the contract lasts four years, as the two sides decided to keep the dollar figures between each other.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell laid out a lot of the possible numbers on his Twitter feed, giving us an idea of what reportedly sealed the deal.

First things first, Campbell reports that the deal is worth $3.7-$4 million overall.

That’s quite the impressive number on face value, but what does it mean for players over a four-year contract?

Campbell reports that earnings will range between $850K and $950K, depending upon how they perform in the tournament:

They’ll also receive the same travel and other miscellaneous amenities as the men’s team, but what about years that are more about training than competition?

Interesting stuff. Definitely check out Campbell’s feed for additional details.

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.