Thursday, January 10, 2008

So he loaded up the truck and got out of Tennessee

Craig Leipold’s vacation from hockey came to an end on Thursday, when the former owner of the Nashville Predators was announced as the new majority owner of the Minnesota Wild.

When we last left Leipold, he was putting the finishing touches on his get out of Nashville deal, which saw him take a small hit financially at the time, to be rid of the financially under performing Predators, only to resurface less than a month later ready to run the Wild. A team which for the most part, very few were aware was up for sale, though it seems that a few suggestions had been planted out there in the last few months..

As 2007 was winding down, the reported sale price of the Preds was 193 million dollars, a fair hunk of change but nowhere near what he originally had in mind back when Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie offered to put 220 million at the time.

The plot thickened further last year, when suddenly Leipold appeared to have an about face and sought out local ownership for the Predators, a plan which kind of, sort of came to fruition, that is if you consider Kansas City’s, William "Boots" Del Biaggio, a local owner.

Leipold purchased the Wild from the original franchise owner Bob Naegele who was granted the franchise back in 1997, turning it into a pretty successful operation at the box office while they’ve had forward momentum on the ice.

Considering Leipold’s team play with the NHL over the Predators sale, there will most likely be little in the way of dissenting opinion from the league office over his purchase at a rumoured price of over 250 million dollars.

The developments today should serve as interesting background for Mr. Balsillie, who maybe now has a better idea of the political nature of NHL ownership, where perhaps some of the most interesting action is taking place in the backrooms. And a place where you had best count your fingers when you leave the room.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune--What's being said about the sale

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