It was reported late last week that former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was close to finalizing a deal that would make him the primary owner of the Nashville Predators. This changeover would be the third different ownership group to take control of the Preds in their 23-year history.
While ownership has changed hands several times, the one ice product has been one of the most consistent, making the playoffs 15 out of the last 18 years. The franchise has only seen one General Manager and three head coaches in that same period.
Fan’s antenna perks up whenever an organization changes owners. So, what does this mean for the current team?
First things first:
This team isn’t moving. It’s a fair concern to have, given the changeover and the uncertainty a billionaire owner can bring to the table, but the Predators were among the few teams to sell out all 41 home games last season. In addition to the team’s success, I would find it hard to believe that a former Tennessee Governor would move one of the few pro sports franchises out of the state.
While the Predators have been consistent since toiling in mediocrity their first few years of existence, they have yet to get over the ultimate hump and hoist the Stanley Cup. Haslam could very well push all the right buttons to get this team to the next level.
If you follow the NFL, the name Haslam might sound familiar. Bill’s brother Jimmy has been the Cleveland Browns owner since the middle of the 2012 season. Perhaps it’s not fair to judge his tenure as owner of the Browns because the franchise has been horrendous since returning to the league in 1999; in his first nine seasons, the team has only made the playoffs once.
It’s worth noting that after his two most successful seasons with the Browns, Jimmy okayed an incredible trade for Deshawn Watson, who may not be able to play week 1. He’s not the General Manager, but there is no way trading three first-round picks, a third-rounder, a fourth-rounder, and signing a player with sexual misconduct history to a $230 million contract extension doesn’t get approved by ownership first.
Unlike Jimmy, Bill will be inheriting a stable franchise with a solid foundation with a mixture of veteran leadership and young talent. Led by Norris and Vezina Trophy candidates Roman Josi and Juuse Saros, the Predators are in good shape moving forward.
Best case scenario:
There is certainly the possibility that the new owner could take the organization to the next level, ala Robert Craft taking over the New England Patriots in 1994. The success the Patriots have endured over the last 28 years has been unprecedented in the history of the NFL. Yes, that has a lot to do with Tom Brady and Bill Belichek, but the owner gave them every opportunity to succeed and left them alone to do their thing, for the most part.
Worst case scenario:
He could also end up being Terry Pegula. Pegula purchased the Sabres in 2011 and hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since. During his tenure as owner, the Sabres hired and fired five different coaches, they haven’t eclipsed 40-wins once and had a very messy public divorce with former captain Jack Eichel.
Haslam could be any of the above examples or fall somewhere in between, but if he does take over, the success and failures of the franchise from here on out will be directly correlated to him.