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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing guy for Captain D's. Hockey fan, photographer, and father of 2 awesome boys.

(Opinions expressed here are not those of my employer. Heck, they might not even be mine.)

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Friday, June 29, 2007

pixar goodness

I took a half-day off from work today to go see Ratatouille with Christy. We went to see it at the theater near Rivergate mall. Very nice actually. Well, not very nice, but very good and certainly nicer than most. The only 'nicer' theaters i could name would be Green Hills or Opry Mills and those theaters still show most movies in...[shudder]...film. This theaters has already converted to digital, like other smaller theaters. But the overall experience was much better than the one at the Hickory Hollow theater.

To the movie.
(I will do my absolute best to avoid anything like spoilers)

Very good. I have to say i went in somewhat skeptical, yet really excited. This was Pixar, and for those that don't know, i am a huge Pixar fan. I love their work, their self-awareness, and most of all, the heart and depth that their movies have. They hold my interest as an adult with intelligent story lines, thoughtful characters, and truly funny jokes - not potty humor like some other studios - but real funny situational comedy. In the end though, i am a firm believer that most of the Pixar movies, had they been made with real actors and not animated, would have been in the running for best picture. The stories, characters, and writing are that good. Through all of that though, they are also movies that you can take anyone to see. They are not just PG, they are waaay G. But still very good movies for adults.

The one exception to that however, was The Incredibles. Don't get me wrong. Fabulous movie. 4.5 out of 5 stars for me. But not the 5+ that the other Pixar movies garner to me. It fell just a little short in both the all-ages category and in the story. Again - don't get me wrong. I still got choked up at some parts, but it was a little heavy handed. A little obvious and i felt like my emotions were being manipulated. I felt like i was watching a great movie - but i felt like i was watching a movie. Ironically, i think with most of the other Pixar movies, when the emotional climax to the movie comes, i always feel like i am watching real characters interact and cameras are catching real action. It feels so honest. Which is ironic of course considering that The Incredibles is the first movie where it is people on the screen and not talking bugs or toys or fish or whatever.

Because of all of that i went in skeptical. Ratatouille was written and directed by Brad Bird, the same guy that did the Incredibles. He is not one of the Pixar guys to me (John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft, etc). Good writer/director, but his movies feel different than Pixar.


This was a really good movie. I recommend everyone see it. Though I will say that this isn't a "must see" for theaters. It is not an action movie or anything and unless you can see it in digital, i fear you may not be able to truly appreciate the amazing animation details. That's really about the only thing that was extremely 'cinematic' about this movie. I think that may have been one of the disappointments for me. The movie felt small the vast majority of the time. While this sounds logical given the movies central character is about 6 inches tall, Pixar proved in A Bug's Life that you can make a movie about miniatures look like an epic. But hey, with the type of story it was, maybe that was on purpose. I just think the movie could have used a little more scale and power. Every time we see the "beauty" of Paris it is through a window. Most of the shots are very tight. Just not a lot of scale to the movie.

The other factor that was a little disappointing to me was that yet again, like the Incredibles, this movie is a very PG movie to me. It got a G rating, but if i had children under the age of 6 or 7, i would have been a little uncomfortable with a couple of scenes. Nothing horrific mind you, and nothing like the Incredibles. But there were two scenes in particular that would take either eye-closing for a little one or some explaining afterwards, or both. Again, one of the things i really love about most Pixar movies is that you can show them to anyone and they will enjoy them. Adults get a lot out of them, but any kids can watch them. They are innocent but not simple. This movie was a little lighter on innocents and a little heavier on simplicity.

Overall though, great movie. I was laughing out loud quite often, especially early in the movie. Very funny. Worth seeing. I will probably see it again in the theater and will definitely own it when it is released on DVD.

Compared against the 5+ of other Pixar's this fell short of my high expectations, but it was still a solid 4.5 out of 5.

Now...as to the part that i really loved...

The teaser trailer at the beginning of the movie for the next Pixar film, Wall-E. It is coming out just next summer, which i am really excited about. Increased computing power and better and better software mean they are able to crank out Pixar films faster - and the extra budget from them buying out Disney, Disney merging with them Disney buying them out and putting all of Pixar on the board doesn't hurt either. Best part, is this is a "true" Pixar film. Back to Andrew Stanton.

Without further ado, here's the trailer for Wall-E.

High Def quicktime version here.

Here is another teaser/ad/viral video that was released with the Ratatouille video game.

That video mentions a website at the end, which really does exist: www.BuyNLarge.com. Check it out. Click on the little red dot at the bottom. This will be a fun site to watch in the coming months.

One last interesting couple of notes about the movie:
1) Pixar has re-rendered the opening title shot of their logo (featuring Luxo Jr, the bouncing desk lamp). The lighting has obviously been redone and it looks great. Again, see it on film and you'll probably miss this.
2) There is a short at the beginning of the movie. Very funny, though a little strange. Ok, a lot strange. But very funny.

player update

We do actually have a hockey team in Nashville, not just a franchise that is being fought over.

The Timmins Daily press is reporting on its native son, Steve Sullivan, and his recovery from back problems that kept him out of the later part of the season and the playoffs last year. No huge updates from what i can see. The article itself is truncated for their online version, though Kuklas Korner has some other excerpts cited as well.

Basically it looks like Sully is doing well, but they are still having to work on his back.

In semi-related news: Peter Forsberg is going under the knife again. Doctors in his native Sweden will be working on his foot to see if they can rebuild the thing. I personally doubt he will play hockey next year, and if he does it will be for Colorado, making a rousing 'come back' in January or so. He doesn't have full seasons left in him, but there is no question he was still a very good player for us last year at season's end and in the playoffs. Sadly, i think one of the biggest factors in his wanting to return is that he won't want to retire with his last moments having been playing for a team for 2 months, getting knocked out in the first round, and sitting out the final moments of his career (literally) in the penalty box. Not a way for someone like him to go down.

talkin' hockey

I just left this long segment as a reply to James Mirtle's response to my request - i asked him why he seemed to not want hockey in the US, etc. read here for the original exchange. James is a sports writer for the Globe and Mail in Toronto, so he knows what he's talking about. My question was not argumentative, but serious. Thankfully, James replied in kind and i appreciate his response.

Read here for his response post.

Now here's mine:


Thank you for your response. You've been very civil and thoughtful in our discussions and i really appreciate that. It is not always the case in other places.

I also appreciate your response. I'm starting to think we don't disagree as much as i thought we did.

I don't think Kansas City would be a good place for the NHL to go. I think Las Vegas, with the additional media attention and cache that being the first NHL franchise would bring would be a huge lift to the league. I don't think Las Vegas would be a very profitable team immediately as a team in Hamilton would be, but there are considerations other than immediate profit that would benefit the league.

Let me also be clear on this: I do not think the Bettman has been a good commissioner.

I think he has done a horrible job and squandered the NHL's position in the larger sports market for years. But i don't think contraction to instant-profit Canadian cities is the solution either.

The league is profitable as it is, subsidized by the Canadian teams. If i have never thanked Canada as a whole and the fans there for making the Nashville Predators possible (and i don't think i have) let me do so right now. I have no illusions as to what makes it possible for me to go and watch the team.

The one point you make that i disagree with is that attendance is the problem in Nashville. It is not. Could attendance be better? Yes. But lets assume for a moment that the Predators had sold out every single game last year - and for good measure raised ticket prices 15%. The team lost $15mil last year. That extra ticket revenue wouldn't cover $1.5mil of that gap (more like half that).

The problem for the Predators and for much of the league as a whole is one of marketing and sponsorships. That was the point i made in my post yesterday. The NBA has learned how to make money on everything they do. The NHL on the other hand (at least the Predators and many other teams) rely on tickets and t-shirts. They seem to be waiting for the businesses to beat down their door and throw money at them. That may happen in Canada, but that simply doesn't happen in US markets when you are competing against the NFL, NBA, and MLB for revenue.

Contrary to your conclusion (that Hamilton= money and Bettman should follow it) I think Bettman follows the money too much. His biggest failure has been there. Not in trying to spread hockey to new markets, but in expecting those markets to support themselves and be instantly adopted. Bettman expects the fans to come to him, to find the league wherever it is.

Best example of this is the US TV deal. He should have sold the rights to the first post-lockout season to ESPN for $1 (even $1 Canadian). Instead he went for the higher rates that the OLN was willing to pay.

It is all about brand and associating yourself with winners. Bettman has not been able to do that.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

real deep thoughts

I recently decided to change my blog title. It used to be "sthguoht peed", and someone suggested "Deep Thoughts" as an alternative. Aside from not liking the implied SNL reference, i didn't think my blog had really lived up to the standard.

This latest post from my sister does.
Go read it.

Really great post Amy. You're dead on. Even with all this stuff back and forth with different people about hockey in Nashville - such a shallow topic - it amazes me how quickly people can get thrown into mad bouts of insults. Conversations that should be civil and general get really personal and vicious.

I am reminded of a thought in Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis (which i just started reading). I certainly don't agree with everything i've read so far, and i haven't even gotten half-way through. But early in the book he discusses people with intensely fixed, immovable, inflexible beliefs that they fell can not be challenged without risking the loss of their whole belief system.

He describes a letter he had received from such a man at a seminary asking for support and trying to recruit badly needed "defenders of the faith". He said he realized that so many Christians (and people in general i think - pick your topic) get so caught up in talking about how right their fixed ideas are, which of course after a while leads to talking about how wrong everyone else is, which then leads to defending their own belief system and a vicious cycle is started. He provides the alternative that, rather than attack and defend, why not focus on your living life the way you feel it should be lived, and occasionally ask people to join you? I think the idea is that 1) no one idea should be that important to your existance and 2) if you have a good thing, you shouldn't have to attack/defended others to get them to see that. Twelve steps groups have a similar theory. They never actively promote themselves because they believe in attracting other people who want what they have, and when someone is ready to accept it, they will come on their own.

How rare is that kind of thinking though? There are whole industries - and political systems - based around the idea of one set of people being right and everyone else being wrong and the arguments that ensue.

This is one of the things i really like about the 'old' Everlast song "What It's Like" (video, lyrics warning: mature language)(i know nothing of the artist other than this one hit wonder) It's a very impactful song about people on the other side of hot issues. Homelessness, abortion, drugs...they are all very personal issues that we have a tendency to turn into blanket, altruistic ISSUES.

But particularly these types of situations are really never that simple. But it is so easy to look at someone from a distance and assume they are an issue. Ask a homeless person how he became homeless. The answer will not be simple. But it is so easy to look at a panhandler and assume he is a lazy bum that chooses to drink liquor instead of do something better (i know - i've done it). But it is never that simple. Same with any abortion. I have never heard of anyone that liked abortion, never talked to a woman that went through it that said "that was great, you should all try it". But so many times there are people who believe abortion should be illegal who have no compassion for people in those situations. The are unable or unwilling to look at the person and realize that they are not just an ISSUE. Now ability to show the person compassion and save the argument another day.

The amazing to watch people cross the line, too. People so fixated on an ISSUES that when someone they know as a friend crosses the line, they are shunned. Rarely are they embraced as imperfect, wounded humans. They are now one of "them".

Like Amy said. People are not ideas. We should react to the people and the circumstances, not the ideas and ideals that we may prize or hate.

If my idea is that great, people will follow. But i'm ok even if they don't. It doesn't lessen my belief or happiness. Not if i don't let it.

learning from one another

It looks like the NBA is finally starting to learn from the NHL and MLB when it comes to using minor leagues. The My San Antonio Spurs became the second NBA team to purchase a NBA D-league team outright today. They will now have full control over the coaches, the players, and what sort of system the Austin Toros runs on the court. Huge win for the club.

However, something stuck out to me in the article:

During the 2006-07 season, 19 NBA teams assigned 24 players to D-League rosters, and 14 NBA teams called-up 16 players (‘Gatorade Call-ups') while 31 D-League alumni participated in the NBA Playoffs.
Did you catch that?

The NBA is so good at getting sponsorships, that the process of calling up a player from the minor leagues to the bigs is now branded. Every time an article is written or ESPN reports on player movements between leagues, Gatorade gets a plug. I thought the "First Tennessee first goal of the game" was funny, but... wow.

As has been pointed out here and many other places, the Predators and the rest of the NHL* need to find alternative revenue streams if they want to compete with the big boys. Tickets, beer, and t-shirt sales only go so far.

*Yes, even teams like the Leafs. They may have all the revenue they need, but if the league collapses or shrinks down to 6 teams again because it isn't profitable, then... oh wait. I forget. Most of Canada is apparently fine with that. If i read one more article like James Mirtle's today that talks about the NHL's reckless expansion into the US since 1967...i swear...

Tell me, how many of the 'original six' teams were Canadian? (answer: 2) The last time the NHL was made of majority Canadian teams was in 1925.

[end rant]

Oh, and in the marketing department, the Predators rolled out a new website today. It looks...a lot like the old one. Pretty much a clone of NHL.com, which needs a serious redux itself. But it's nice enough. Now lets see if they actually post any good pictures, videos, and useful information. Within 48 hours of the thing actually happening. Press conferences for last weeks games don't count. Oh, and get rid of (or improve) that ghastly list of 100 things to do with tickets. They did do a decent job of covering the draft, i'll give them that. I don't think we've really seen the new site though. This is all the old content dumped into a new layout. It still lists the 3rd Jersey which has been outlawed for next year.

balsillie out?

At this point i am skeptical and i don't have time to read every single report, but i have awakened to many new articles this morning saying that Leipold has nixed the Balsillie deal, but is instead selling to William "Boots" DelBiaggio who will take the team to Kansas City (if we don't sell enough tickets).

My initial thoughts:
First, i'm glad to have Balsillie out. As much as he is a hockey guy and will be a fun owner some day, he has also proved himself to be an inconsiderate jerk. Balsillie wanted/wants a team in Canada badly, but most of all i think he wanted to be a hockey owner. If the Preds sell enough tickets this year, i think he would be satisfied staying in Nashville, just happy to be an owner. DelBiaggio on the other hand is not really a hockey guy (though he is a partial owner of a minor league team).

Interestingly, DelBiaggio just said last week that he was not interested in going after the Predators since this "was Jim's deal". Apparently either 1) he was lying through his teeth and just upped his offer or 2) Leipold knows that the Balsillie deal and move to Hamilton was not going to be approved by the league, which i think is more likely.

This isn't much better for Predators fans, except that our new potential owner has shown more discretion than Balsillie, at least to this point. however, DelBiaggio just wants to take a team to Kansas City. If he succeeds, Kansas City will be even worse than Nashville in terms of number of pro teams per capita, unless you don't count the Royals, which is certainly an argument to be made. Either way the league will be moving in to another NFL dominated market, only this time the NFL team is long established, instead of starting out 2 years behind the NHL team like they did in Nashville.

Can hockey succeed in Kansas City? Well, they tried it once and it didn't work, but that was a long time ago. I think it could succeed, but the NHL shouldn't think that it will be any easier there than in Nashville. And now they will be starting all over.

Oh, and of course all the local papers just have news about the local investors still trying to get another big name for their bid for the team. Maybe all this is why i couldn't sleep last night.

Leipold's official response to all of this:
“We are currently free to explore any and all options regarding the sale of the Nashville Predators. However, until and unless there is a binding agreement in place, we do not plan to comment on the status of Predators ownership. We will not comment on rumors and speculation.”

In other Predators news:
Paul McCann has a post up about the top prospects at came that started yesterday.
And the Tennessean is reporting that newly-crowned starting goalie Chris Mason just bought season tickets in an effort to save the team in Nashville.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

new name

It is done. My friend Jim made the suggestion. I think it fits well. Thanks Jim!
I wonder how long it will take for the RSS feed to update the title? (Answer: about an hour.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

predators open practice

Just a quick note: The Predators Prospect Conditioning Camp schedule has apparently been announced. I can't find it any place official, but i've seen it posted on some other forums, etc.

All on-ice workouts at Centennial Sportsplex are open to the public.
On-ice sessions are currently scheduled for: (updated courtesy of Paul McCann)

Thursday, June 28 (All players) 2:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.

Friday, June 29 (Goaltenders) 10:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m.

Saturday, June 30 (Goaltenders) 2:15 p.m. (All players) 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, July 1 (All players) 9:00 a.m.

Monday, July 2 (All players) 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
The most famous type players that will be in attendance here will be Cody Franson, Blake Geffreon, and our new picks from this year's draft.

But it is still an excuse to see some guys on the ice.

As soon as i find out the rest of the schedule (the sessions go through Monday) or when i hear anything about the 'real' training camp, i'll be sure to post it here.

name change?

When i started this blog several months ago, i think rushed my title selection. I wasn't sure what i would end up writing about most of the time (ends up it has been Predators, movies, and technology - surprise). So i just gave it a silly name, "deep thoughts" spelled backwards.

In part i selected it because it is unpronounceable. Like many words and terms online, there is no preset way to pronounce it, it exists primarily in written form and not verbal*. While i kinda like this, and the challenge and uniqueness it provides, it is also kind of annoying. For one thing, while looking at an alphabetized list of blogs, i look for mine in the D's or in the T's (i pronounce it "thoughts peed" in my head for some reason).

Anyway, i am trying to think of a new name for my blog. The good news is i can change it without changing my URL, so you will all (3 of you) still be able to find me.


In other my-blog news: i was planning something special for the 200th post (like i did for my 100th) but there was so much chaos going on with the Predators (and other stuff) last week that i passed it up. This is post 211 for those keeping track at home. I'll have what was supposed to be my 200th post up soon.

* Other example: LOLCat. Is that "lowel cat" or "L-O-L cat" or "lawle cat"?

ahead of schedule

The Tennessean is reporting that the Predators are well ahead of their normal pace when it comes to season ticket sales. Renewals are about the same as this time last year, with 67% of the previous season's STH renewing so far (those figures climb as the season gets closer). The really great news is the new season ticket sales. The Predators have already sold the equivalent of 1,000 new season tickets (through a mixture of full and partial packages). Last year at this time the team had sold 750 new season ticket packages.

This is HUGE! There are several other initiatives still just getting started, and two ticket selling events planned that haven't even happened yet - the concert on the 10th, and the all-day ticket-thon and rally that 104.5 is doing at the Sommet center (and on-air for 13 straight hours) on the 19th. I also have to say i love how these groups are raising money to buy tickets that will then be donated to charity groups in town.

The best thing about all of this is that even without those events we're already ahead of last year, when we only fell 185 tickets short of the magic 14,000 number. If the rallies and ticket-thon that 104.5 is planning have any level of success, then things are looking very good indeed for keeping the Predators here.

Of course, the other major benefit of all of this, is that with all of these high-visbility campaigns and large numbers of the public showing up for events, local businesses are getting a chance to see that the Predators have rabid fans and that sponsoring and advertising with the team (aside from buying tickets for themselves) make business sense, which will help the team be more profitable and viable in the future - whoever owns the team.

Predators prospect conditioning camp opens tomorrow! It runs June 26th - July 2nd. All of our new draft picks and several other prospects are expected to be in attendance. They will be held at the Centennial Sportsplex, but no word on what if any times they will be having workouts that are open to the public.

Also no work on when training camp will be yet. I'm saving up a vacation day or two ;-)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

not alone in our fight

I just received a fabulous note from Jim Henshaw (Canadian TV writer/actor/etc). In short, it was his response to the pending sale of the Predators and the mess surrounding it - and he ties in lessons he learned when he had a chance to hear Fred Rogers (as in "Mister Rogers") speak years ago. As a huge fan of Mister Rogers, this really hit home for me.

His note really made my day, and his piece on the Predators gave me hope. With the chaos that has been happening lately, i was really starting to get fatigued defending my fandom and my city. And though i keep telling all my friends 'we have a chance' and 'we control our own destiny', in my heart i was beginning to get discouraged. This piece reminded me that, while reality is still what it is and we have an uphill battle, i can at least rest knowing that not everyone outside of Nashville is against us. Thanks Jim.

His writing is superb (surprise), if a little long. So from here, with his permission, i'll just let Jim do the talking:

I finally posted my thoughts on Jim Balsillie. It's part of a much longer post on Canadian TV, but I wanted to give you the chance to share it with Nashville fans... All my best on the fight to keep the team. Believe it or not, a lot of Canadians are with you.


A cold snap hit New Orleans on the opening day of The 1997 NATPE Convention. Within hours, the trendy men's wear store across from the Convention Center had sold out its entire stock of overcoats, sweaters and gloves as the California contingent snapped up anything they could find to fend off the bitter chill.

Inside the cavernous meeting halls, attendance was slim for the early morning panels and lectures, as attendees opted to breakfast in the comfort of their hotels before venturing to the icy banks of the Mississippi. Television luminaries from franchise showrunners to network heads found handfuls instead of hoards awaiting the insights and information they had come to deliver.

All except one.

Fred Rogers took the stage at the final breakfast meeting, accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award to a standing ovation from several thousand television execs who had either grown up or watched their children grow up in his neighborhood.

Wearing his trademark sweater and sneakers, the man who once said, "I went into television because I hated it so." was as gentle and ego-less as he had been for more than 30 years in the public eye.

But "Mr. Rogers" didn't want to talk about making television for children or share anecdotes from his career that morning. He wanted to talk about the people in that room -- and what was wrong with us.

Arriving at New Orleans airport, he'd noticed the squadrons of private planes parked on every spare patch of runway. He'd seen the long lines of limos outside and had toured the lavish sales displays of the world's networks and studios. He wondered what any of it had to do with making good television.

As the hushed room hung on his every word, he read a poem. I don't know whether it was something he'd penned some time before or on the spur of the moment. But it was about kids defining themselves and their status by their toys, instead of sharing the best that was inside them. It concluded with a wonderful line..."Remember your toys aren't you -- your toys are beside you."

Two events of the last couple of weeks got me thinking about that speech. The first was the sale and subsequent dismembering of the CHUM/CITY empire. The second is the ongoing hockey soap opera as Canadian Billionaire Jim Balsillie attempts to buy and move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton.

It's far too early to know for certain how either of these events will finally play themselves out. But in both cases, they feel like the triumph of money, power and ego over something that was special and good and more important to the future.
[Here, again with Jim's permission, i will skip over the discussion of Canadian TV mergers, etc. While it is of no small importance in its impact, even here in the US, most of you won't know the background. I encourage you to read Jim's original piece to get the full story - he has a lot of good things to say. Sufficed to say, large media companies are buying up others and programming could/may/will suffer.]
My big fear is that they'll beat each other up acquiring US programming that comes with a more or less quantifiable return; rather than invest in programming they can actually own and fully exploit in the future.

But then Guys with money wouldn't have money if they didn't know what they were doing and success always breeds success, right?

Which brings me to Jim Balsillie, Billionaire owner of Research in Motion, creator of the Blackberry and aspiring NHL owner.

Jim (and I can call him Jim because we Jims are informal that way) bid on and backed away from purchasing the Pittsburgh Penguins a few months ago. Depending on which story you believe, either he or the NHL killed the deal over his plan to move the franchise to Hamilton.

Now he's bidding $50 million more than the Nashville Predators are worth with the same plan in mind. The conventional wisdom is that his offer vastly increases both the paper value of all current NHL franchises as well as what can be charged bidders for expansion teams. Therefore, Jim's made all the other owners a ton of money just by turning up with his wallet, so how can they say "No" to him?

His first move after over-bidding for the franchise was to tell Commissioner Gary Bettman he wasn't moving the team and his next was to sign an arena deal in Hamilton and start selling season tickets.

This puts him in conflict with the League's bylaws, the Commissioner, the Fans of Nashville as well as the two current franchises (Toronto and Buffalo) whose local jurisdiction intersects the city of Hamilton. In layman's terms, this means Jim can't move there without infringing on their existing fan bases, television penetration and God Given right to print money without interruption.

According to what passes for wisdom on Sports radio stations, this may all sound duplicitous and dumb when Jim doesn't even own the team yet. But he's "a real smart businessman who doesn't make mistakes", and "has pockets deep enough to win this fight".

In other words, he's the richest guy, so he should get to make the rules.

Well, for starters, Jim's a really smart businessman who paid $450 Million to another software firm a couple of years back for patent violations in the design of the Blackberry. He dragged that suit out, because he was the big dog, when he probably had the option to settle earlier and for much less. Only when a federal court in the US began considering a ban on Blackberry service did Jim cave -- and then the patent holder turned the screws a little more to maximize his own profit.

Somehow, all that doesn't strike me as the mark of a smart businessman.

I heard a friend of Jim's interviewed this week, relating a story that was also quite telling. By all accounts, Jim's a real nice guy (his name's Jim, how can he not be) but after losing a $20 bet on a golf game, he apparently was almost beside himself. The friend told him to relax, it was only $20. Jim's heated response, "No! It's not!"

Rich guys. Money buys deference. But it doesn't make you something you're not.

And if you look at the big picture, selling a team to Jim and moving it to Hamilton could be one of the worst things that could happen to the NHL.

Maybe hockey isn't thriving in Nashville, but it's doing better than it was 10 years ago. New fans are constantly finding the game. They may not provide the immediate gratification an owner would find in Hamilton, Winnipeg, Halifax or anywhere else in Canada. But to grow, a sport needs to cultivate new fans, not just keep preaching to the same choir.

The NHL is hoping to expand to Houston, Kansas City and Las Vegas, where producer Jerry Bruckheimer wants to place a team. None of those are hockey hotbeds. But they are large and viable markets that can further expand the fan base and make a major American television deal for the NHL more likely.

One has to wonder how much that TV deal is jeopardized if the Nashville market is lost by Jim moving the team. And one also has to wonder if expansion to the cities mentioned makes sense at the current $190 Million price tag, but much less if the price cranks up (because of Jim's overbid) to $220 or $240 Million.

More kids are playing hockey every year in the US. This year the top picks in the Junior draft were all Americans. These kids are going to need new places to play or all that hard work, training and growth of a fan base will have been for naught.

But the Canadian fan who just wants a local rooting interest doesn't care about those things. Hell, as a frustrated Leafs fan, I wish Jim would move the Predators to Toronto. It's been a long time since we had a real NHL team in this city!

But here's what money talking in this instance could mean...

Atlanta sees Hamilton do well in the hockey mad Golden Horseshoe and moves to Niagara Falls. Tampa decides to set up shop in Mississauga; both places offering access to larger markets than Winnipeg or Quebec City.

Given the rule changes Jim would have to force to make his move, neither he nor the league would be able to prevent these eventualities. And suddenly, Jim's team isn't making money either -- and what the nets are paying for TV rights becomes as fragmented as the local market.

If you want an example of where this already exists, look at Australian Rules Football, an incredibly wild and exciting game that was born in Melbourne. Today, Melbourne is home to 9 of the AFL's 17 teams. That's right. Half the league is in one city. And while Melbourne has more than enough crazed fans to fill its stadiums, when half the games are only of rabid interest in one location, there's no money in National broadcasts. So the game has never grown as it should have.

Adding another team in the Ontario TV market can only further fragment already declining audience numbers for the Leafs and the Sabres. God knows what it'll do to Ottawa, who have been the poor cousins for 12 years in a local market already splintered by Montreal and Toronto.

So if Jim gets what his money says he should have, he may actually hurt the financial base of two Canadian teams that are currently making money and a team in Buffalo that's on the bubble.

I can't believe I actually agree with Gary Bettman on something! I might be required to turn in my passport.

The problem with our world is that it's all about money, numbers and market share. Too many good things wither because people with money can't see an immediate return.

Which brings me back to Fred Rogers...

Through the 1950's, Mr. Rogers wasn't very successful with his concept of using television to "nurture" those who watched it. Then in 1963, he moved to Toronto, where he had been contracted by the CBC for a 15 minute children's program entitled "MisteRogers" (sic) in which he made his on camera debut.

The show was a hit with kids, but 3 years later, the CBC decided it knew better and that its money was better spent elsewhere, canceling the show. Fred moved back to Pittsburgh, launching the identical concept as "Mister Rogers Neighborhood". Four decades of children later, his sweater and sneakers reside in a place of honor in the Smithsonian Institute along with the trolley, Eiffel tower, tree and castle that were created by CBC Designers.

The Guys with the Gold will always make the Rules. But money is short-sighted and rarely gives worthwhile endeavors a chance. What endures and makes a difference in life does not come from the toys. It comes from people who care about more than that.

"Remember. Your toys are not you. They are beside you."
Great piece Jim.
Thank you so much for sharing it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


More pictures and some comments up soon, but for now - check out my Flickr set.

Friday, June 22, 2007

be still my heart

It's been quite a night.

First things first - the picture to the right is of a fan at the NHL draft in Columbus, OH.
This man is my hero.

Now...to the rest of the night's craziness.

Apparently while we were over at a friends watching the finale of Stargate SG-1 (more on that later) there were rumors flying around that Craig Leipold sent a note to the NHL saying he didn't want to sell to Balsillie anymore. One person was even kind enough to comment about it on my blog (i really appreciate that!).

I can't tell you how happy i was about this at the moment. I don't absolutely despise Balsillie (yet at least), but the reasons that were supposedly given in the letter were that Leipold didn't want to sell the team to Balsillie since he was so clearly not going to give the team a chance in Nashville. That means that not only was Balsillie essentially out of the picture, but that Leipold would prefer a Nashville centric-owner.

Unfortunately it turns out that reality was a little more predictable. Leipold sent a letter to the NHL, but it only said that the NHL need not pursue its background checks, and continue with paperwork on Balsillie until Balsillie enters into a binding agreement with him - which would include a deposit.

Now, my guess here is that reality lays somewhere in between.

Leipold needs money. He isn't broke mind you, but he wants the financial albatross that is the Predators off his back (i love the team but it's the truth). I also believe that he would like to see the Predators ultimately succeed in Nashville (though not too badly). I think he is using this to put pressure on Balsillie, but more specifically to let him know that he is not very happy with what Balsillie has been doing. Balsillie has the money. He could write a check for the full $220mil in cash right now, so it isn't about not trusting Balsillie's seriousness or financial standing.

I think this is Leipold's way of putting Balsillie on notice that he is absolutely willing entertaining offers from other suitors that would be more willing to give the Predators a chance in Nashville. Or at least other suitors that won't be jerks about moving the team. This is supported by the fact that the Nashville post is quoting someone 'who would know' that Leipold is willing to offer something of a "Nashville discount" to someone who would keep the team here. Possibly something in the $180mil area instead of the $220-240mil that Balsillie is reported to be offering, but that those discussions were also before Balsillie's offer came through.

Trouble is, i'm not sure who any prospective local owner would be. Unless someone rides out of nowhere, we aren't hearing any great news out of the camp of local businessmen trying to raise $125mil so that they can then borrow the remaining $60-100mil needed to buy the team. Honestly, if the group 1) has no significant leader and 2) doesn't have enough money to buy the team that isn't financially solvent, then the NHL won't approve that sale. Whoever buys the Preds is going to have to have a minimum of $250-300mil at their disposal. It will be years before this team turns a profit - unless Leipold is lying through his teeth about recent financials for the team. Which, while i admit is a very very distinct possibility, i am still unwilling to believe is true.

On the subject of lying - one more comment about the Vokoun trade.
It makes absolute sense on the ice. Get picks and free cap space to bring in better players and move a slightly overpaid goalie to make room for an underpaid star waiting to bloom (you'll remember that Mason finished higher than Vokoun in Vezina trophy voting this year).

What worries me, or upsets me about the trade is that just the day before, David Poile told the press that he "had no current plans to trade any of his high-salary players that were under contract for the coming season". Again, i agree that the trade made sense, but still... I am just hoping that Poile made a careless slip of the tongue and was thinking of valuable but non-duplicate players who are under contract (read: Sullivan, Arnott, Erat, Zidlicky, Weber, Suter, Radulov, etc). I would think as long as Poile has been a GM he would know better. And that's what makes me nervous. ESPN is also reporting (guessing) that Kariya is probably gone. I think our lack (or perceived lack) of competitiveness will hurt our chances of signing him, regardless of the salary he is offered.

Another interesting note: a few places are reporting that Vokoun had a no-trade clause. I guess he knew that he would be a solid no-contest #1 goalie in Florida, and no so here, so he waived the clause.

One last hockey related note. To all those Canadian haters who keep bashing on hockey in the US and the south, etc. Tonight for the first time ever - ever - two US born players were taken 1-2 in the amateur draft. The Predators also selected the first California native to be selected in the first round. They weren't exactly from Brentwood, TN, but i'm just sayin'...

vokoun is gone

Breaking news: Tomas Vokoun was just traded to the Florida Panthers for 3 draft picks.

We also didn't make a qualifying offer to Ramzi Abid, but we did make one to Darcy Hordichuck. Look the end of last season and explain that one to me.

David Poile was trying to tell everyone that there were no plans for a fire sale, that he was still going to put together a competitive team. That made sense when he just let two about-to-be-expensive free agents go. But this was a new trade. One that makes a lot of sense, but still, the perception is there. it would be much different if this was a trade for a D-man or center to replace Kimmo or Hartnell, but for picks - next year? That doesn't look good, or help the team this year.

...Unless Poile can now use these picks to trade for someone else...

Update: The team will get better. It has to. I just heard on the radio we are now several million dollars under the salary minimum for next year - so we have to get someone else. Maybe resign Kariya, maybe a few lesser additions. But something. What i don't know for sure is if the recent qualifying offers are factored into that. Keeping Hordichuck, Nichol, Smithson, Zanon, etc may take us to the minimum by themselves. But even as we are - we still have Arnott, Sullivan, Erat, etc etc - we still have a solid team. No question.

But this trade was about math, not hockey. The fact remains, the Predators are not profitable as they are. The franchise can't support a very high payroll without an owner that dumps extra money in - lots of it. Right now Leipold still owns the team and there are no guarantees that he'll be able to find a buyer this year. He can't afford to dump any more money, so the budget has to come down. Our best hope is that our farm system really comes through. It's good, but i'm not sure it is that good. We're probably looking at a low playoff seed for next year, depending on how the rest of the conference looks.

The team will be fine without Vokoun. Mason played very strong, and i think better than Vokoun for much of last year. He even held his own for a very long stretch while Vokoun was injured, so i think he can be trusted with the starting job. The only risk is if Mason gets hurt, will Rinne be able to step up (assuming he even accepts the qualifying offer we just gave him).

In many ways, this mirrors the trade that our rivals, the San Jose Sharks, just made with the Maple Leafs hours before - though theirs has less of a fire-sale mentality to it. Both teams had the best goalie tandems in the league, and the players were just too valuable to hold on to. Both have had rumors of trades hanging over them for quite a while now.

The other rather sad note here is that Vokoun and Timonen were the final two players who had been with the team since the franchise began. And they are both gone now :-(

Of course this is going to make the goal of selling 14,000 just a little harder - again. But we still hold our destiny in our own hands.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

the nick hilscher quartet

We did it. We got the band back together!

One of Nick's friends was getting married, and asked him to play for the wedding. Nick called us up, we practiced a few times, and played the reception. Much fun! This time we also were able to add a bassist (Allan Douglas) and it really helped our sound. (Getting our piano tuned for practices didn't hurt either). So the Nick Hilscher Trio, grew into the Nick Hilscher Quartet.

I was really really happy with how this came together. We actually only had one practice with all four of us present, but we were able to establish a really good groove (it helps with the bassist grew up obsessed with Stax Records and Motown). This is a really good group of guys and i'd love to play with them more.

Nick is obviously an amazing talent but also a really good friend. I'm always blown away when we play - he's a great vocalist but an amazing pianist. I think he's a lot like Nat King Cole (or maybe Diana Krall): make a career out of singing, but all the musicians and jazz fanatics love his piano work just as much. I really wish him well in getting his band going, though i want to put out the vote again for him to really work on the smaller combo stuff. (For those that don't know, Nick used to sing and play piano for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and recorded an album with them.) It might be my personal preference, but as much as he's great in front of 20+ people, his personality and amazing talent are better showcased in a small combo setting. But maybe that's just me.

Jamie is a great friend and a great musician. We were just talking and realized that he and i have known each other about 10 years now. The longest i've known anyone outside of my wife and blood relatives. He has an extremely wide breadth of musical knowledge that overlaps mine quite a bit, and we've known each other and played so long together i feel like we can really mesh well together, but we also know what we are capable of and when and how to push each other. We (almost) always have fun playing together too. It only takes one of us playing a few notes to start right in to a song like we've practiced it. He's also a better improviser than he'll usually admit.

Allan i haven't known nearly as long, but our first conversation was about obscure early 90's alternative Christian music bands and their production style. And it went up hill from there. He grew up playing and listening to Booker T and the MG's (who you will find in my playlist on the right panel of this blog) - which is exactly the background i would want any bass player to have. He also has an album of his own about to be released. Go check out his MySpace page for details and clips.

So anyway, back to the gig.

Christy took some pictures and videos during the wedding. Unfortunately, due to an strange accident with a network attached storage drive that decided to go wonky on us, only one video survived. It's really a pity because Christy took some great photos and captured some good video too. Fortunately i think the one video that survived is one of the better ones, as it was recorded near the end of the reception when we were more relaxed. For the record: the strange off-beat splash cymbal stuff i randomly start doing at the 1:15 mark was in response to someone who was being goofy and doing the can-can. Gotta work the crowd.

So, here's that video. Don't judge too harshly: the piano was horribly out of tune and we were there to be a dance band, not putting on a jazz concert (in other words: having fun, not making art).

We all want to play together more, and we already have one invitation to play for a friend's parents' anniversary party coming up in another few months. Hopefully Nick moving to Atlanta won't prevent us from playing some more. I think (hope) they are planning on coming back to visit occasionally, so hopefully we can jam some and keep our chops up. Who knows, i might actually practice and feel confident enough to use sticks instead of brushes on more than one song this time :-)

(Note: the phrase "Nick Hilscher" is already the most popular search term people hit my site with)

no buyout option for preds

Well, it looks like the little Nashville Post finally caught up with itself and posted a 'breaking' story too fast without researching it enough. They reported what a lawyer said in a Metro Sports Authority meeting last week. Now they are saying it isn't true after all.

Basically, the $27mil fee for "liquidating damages" is only for that - if the team declares bankruptcy or is found in default of the lease (like the city is saying they are by not having enough total "tangible net worth"). The Post was also kind enough to finally post a copy of this dreaded and complicated lease everyone has been arguing over.

Basically i fell into what Paul McCann called the chicken little syndrome.
It is looking like it will be tough to sell enough tickets to keep the Preds if the team doesn't put a quality group on the ice - but this is far from over.

Oh - and we signed Jerred Smithson today. So...yay.

Monday, June 18, 2007

put me in a better mood

Another blogger recently posted about a scene from the Mary Tyler Moore show being the funniest in sitcom history. It was very funny, and no doubt would have been funnier in the greater context, but not the best i've seen.

Bar none, the best episode/moment in a sitcom i have ever witnessed was the opening episode of season 3 of the Dick Van Dyke show, "That's My Boy". The basic premise is that Rob and Laura (played by Mary Tyler Moore by the way) have just had a baby and Rob is absolutely convinced that the hospital gave them the wrong baby. Much hilarity ensues, but the ending scene is absolutely priceless - and ground breaking. I don't want to spoil the end for you, but it was one of the first of its kind (if not the first) on US television.

Without further ado, here it is:

Reportedly the audience laughed for several straight minutes when the gag was finally pulled, and it had to be edited out. Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke both said in the DVD bonus content that it was by far the longest laugh they've ever gotten.

and so it begins...

A black day indeed.

The sale is not going as fast as they Leipold needed it to, so he is unloading salary and soon-to-be free agents while he can get something for them.

We just unloaded Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen to Philadelphia for a first round pick (they were both about to be unrestricted free agents, so this is better than nothing). They have been signed there to huge long-term contracts. Far more than Nashville would have been able to offer if we had tried.

You have to assume Kariya won't be far behind, and there is no way Forsberg is coming back to Nashville.

What is worse - the fact that we are not going to be well positioned for another cup run is going to make selling those 14,000 magic tickets that much harder.

I don't want to get too pssimistic, but i really feel like our only chances of keeping the team now would be for the sale to Balsillie to be dropped (which i think would only happen if the NHL doesn't want him) and for the local investors to get enough money together to buy the team. But even if that happens, that group won't have enough cash to go after top free agents, and will put together a mediocre team on the ice. Again, fewer ticket sales...

I love the Predators. I love hockey. But outside of a real marketing genius stepping in - and i mean fast - the Predators will be gone. If not this year, then in a few. Right now they just can't be profitable. They were well short of the salary cap last year, and Poile put together a great team with little money - and according to Leipold the team still lost $15mil. Even if we sold out every single game (an extra 3930 seats per game)...and assuming an average sale price of $100 for those missing seats (which it wouldn't be)...that's about an extra $393k in revenue. The Predators need merchandising, licensing, and sponsorship/endorsement deals to survive and they just aren't getting them. Once again, it isn't about the fans. It's about the businesses and the way the team has been run in the environment they have.

Honestly right now i just hope the NHL moves to vegas before the NBA gets there. I know there are a lot of reasons it seems odd, but if they were well marketed (and i think they would be) they would raise the profile of the league in the US. Oh - and the league needs to buy out their contract with Versus and give the games to ESPN/ABC for $100 per game. Less if ESPN/ABC won't take it.

predators hit the road

A bit of an update from a post back in Feb.

The Tennessee legislature finally got around to approving a license plate for the Nashville Predators.

Great timing guys.

They have to pre-sell 1,000 plates before they'll actually start making them. No idea yet if they have a sample design, but i made the graphic to the right back in Feb, and it'll probably be something like that.

My understanding is to contact your local county clerk if you want to order one. I'll try to call this afternoon and see what it takes and how much they'll cost (proceeds go to the Predators Foundation).

Now the question is, do i get one of these for the Rabbit, or one of the antique car plates i now qualify for...

Saturday, June 16, 2007


I love any sort of entertainment that is self-aware. That's most of why i am a Robbie Williams fan. He is an over the top cheesy pop star - and he knows it. His lyrics are all about that he is a hunk of meat up for sale and how he knows the fickle public will leave him once they find out that he's just a looser.

Anyway. That's also one of the things i love about Stargate. It is painfully aware of itself and its audience, and frequently the writers/actors put in jokes in the show for the audience that say "yes, we know we are a silly sci-fi show that's a little weird and we are part of pop-culture". Not so much as to break the fourth wall, but enough that the fans get a good chuckle and it keeps the show honest about itself.

Background: for those that don't know, Stargate SG-1 is the longest running sci-fi show ever at 10 seasons. The show actually started on Showtime, then moved to the Sci-Fi Channel after Showtime canceled it. Since that first season, the writers have never known until the last second if they were writing season finales or series finales. Often the cast was also up for a contract extension year after year as a result. However, this year, they actually had a long term plan in place, and multi-year contracts in place for all the actors - and what does the Sci-Fi Channel do? Cancel them.

This is the show that basically made the Sci-Fi Channel popular, brought them the highest ratings they had ever seen at the time, and then gave them the spin-off (Stargate Atlantis) that itself was the most popular show they had for a while. But SG-1's ratings are not what they once were, and a new show called Eureka has grown in popularity over the passed years and was the number one show on the network for 2006. Stargate is still very popular, but it was canceled anyway. Then the network started messing with when SG-1 aired, waiting weeks longer than usual before airing the start of season 10, and waiting far longer than normal to start the second half of the season. Much confusion for us poor fans. Oh, and of course their budget has been shrunk back a good bit over the last couple of seasons compared to what they once had.

Back to the good part...

Never have i seen a better example of the show's self-awareness than the episode "Family Ties" that aired a few weeks ago. The show started with Cameron Mitchell walking down the hallway with Sgt Siler (played by the shows stunt coordinator, something of a mascot on the show). You hear the end of their conversation as Mitchell says:

"...they canceled it, really? I didn't even know the new season had started."
Funny in its own right, but nothing compared to what happened later.
The episode featured a guest coming to the Earth (for reasons i won't go in to) that had never been here before, but knew of the reputation the SGC (Stargate Command) had around the galaxy and all they have done for fighting the bad guys. Here's an exchange that this character had with SG-1 team member Samantha Carter:
Guest: How are the readings coming along
Sam: Slowly
Guest: It's no wonder. Look, I don't mind telling you, I'm a little disappointed in this facility. I was expecting more.
Sam: Well, at times so do we. But the truth is the Stargate program just doesn't get the support it used to from the people in charge.
Guest: Why not?
Scientist in the room: Eureka! 1 down, 12 to go.
Guest: That's too bad. 'Cause after all this Stargate program has done for this network of planets I would think that the decision makers would show it the respect it deserves.
Sam: Yeah...

Listen to the exchanges here.
Absolute genius.

The moment stuck out as a bit odd at first, not really relating to much of the rest of the story, though the exchange was very much in character for Sam and the guest, and the scientist was hard at work on a project - and i almost missed the meaning. But they only very rarely refer to the set of planets connected by the stargates as a "network". Probably only been called that a few times in 10 years. I didn't even realize the connection to Eureka, since i never watch that show, but my wife reminded me of it and found out it was Sci-Fi's number one show last year.

Just brilliant.

(For the record: i actually bought the episode online for $2 to record the audio and take the screen shot, making this the first blog post i've actually paid money to write)

Friday, June 15, 2007

preds exercise claws...er...clause

Not that this is a surprise, but it is still significant: The Predators did exercise their "cure" clause in the lease with the city.

Of slightly bigger news is that the Predators can break their lease with the city, even if we sell 14,000 tickets. All the owner has to do is pay a $27mil fee for "damages". Now, the NHL has said that if a lease is in place when an owner buys a team, the team cannot move for 7 years. That would presumably mean that an owner cannot break the lease themselves, but if the lease lapses on its own because of time, or in this case, attendance, that the owner is allowed to leave.

I have to wonder though (nervously) if the NHL does want Balsillie to move the Preds after all, if they wouldn't try to call this a "buy out" instead of breaking the lease, and thus allow him to move the team.

I want the Predators to stay. I would rather Balsillie not be the owner, but i'll take what we can. But i also do understand that 14,000 sold seats or not, the Predators are years away from being a profitable franchise in Nashville (without putting the team salaries on the floor anyway). With that said, from a business point of view the move makes sense. From a marketing point of view i don't think it does. But then again, putting the league on the Outdoor Living Network (now the All Fight Channel, AKA Versus) instead of giving the rights away to ESPN after the lockout doesn't make marketing sense either. Just short term financial sense.

As horrified as i am to say this, i really think that our best hope for keeping the Predators in Nashville lies in 1) Bettman's pride and 2) the greed of the Leafs and Sabres ownership. I think that the corporate sponsors and potential owners in the area are a safety net that could catch the team if this Balsillie mess all blows up, but it isn't a serious option on its own merits right now. If it was, they should/would have come forward last spring when Leipold asked for partial ownership from locals.

On a related but random note: discussion on Paul McCann's latest post tonight (at 5:00pm on a Friday) was a little lighter than usual, but still rather heated. I didn't get to read until we got home from hanging out with friends, but one person pointed out that 30 minutes after Paul posted the story, no one from Nashville had commented yet, but many from Toronto, Buffalo, Vancouver, etc had, and that this somehow demonstrated the lack of true fans in Nashville. However, someone else accurately pointed out, i think, that this only means that people in Nashville have something better to do on a Friday night in the middle of the summer.

I think that may be the Predators problem: Nashville is too great a city. Too many options and things to do. I guess that isn't the case in some cities that are more "deserving" of hockey. Touché.

And oh yeah - by my calculations we're about 13 weeks from the start of training camp.

(one more time, happy anniversary to us)

new preds buyer?

The Nashville Post continues to scoop all other media outlets in Nashville for Predators news.

They are now reporting that a group of local businessmen is putting together a bid to purchase the Predators. With this in place, it leaves Bettman open to do what he did in Pittsburgh - tell Balsillie to take a hike, and sell to the locals. With this level of local corporate/business support, you also have to think the odds of the Predators selling enough tickets to stay in town are pretty good, which may cause Balsillie to drop the bid on his own.

Huge news! Good way to start the weekend!

Update: Another good article from the Nashville Post is reporting that the legal roadblocks that the Metro Nashville government have been throwing up all of a sudden are part of why Balsillie has been moving faster to relocate, rather than just purchase the team. They go on to say that between Metro trying to say that two years isn't two years and that players don't count as part of the team's value, they are creating a hostile environment that may kill the Balsillie deal and lead to Leipold moving the team on his own...or of course selling to locals (as mentioned above).

(and happy anniversary to us)

Five years of Christy and Paul

Happy anniversary my beloved Christy.

Our licenses tells us this is 5 years, but we know its really more like our 12th wonderful year together. The best part is, we both know they have improved year after year. Which by this point means it's pretty dang awesome.

Oh...wow. Not just me and Christy, but apparently some other Nashville bloggers tied the knot 5 years ago today.

Happy anniversary Josh and Ashlee!

nhl award voting

Just a quick note, since the Predators site and certainly the Tennessean aren't going to cover it. James Mirtle was kind enough to post the voting totals for the various league awards handed out last night. Here's how some of the Preds finished:

Hart Trophy (MVP): Paul Kariya - 16th
Calder Trophy (Rookie): Alexander Radulov - 9th
Jack Adams (Coach): Barry Trotz - 4th
Lady Byng (Sportsmanship): Paul Kariya - 15th
Norris Trophy (D-man): Kimmo Timonen - 5th
Frank Selke (Defensive forward): David Legwand - 12th
Vezina (Goalie): Chris Mason - 10th

But some of the voting was kinda strange. For instance, apparently Alexander Radulov got a vote for the Selke - defensive forward of the year. Radulov is great, and certainly a better defender than Kariya - but not by much. Weird.

(and happy anniversary to us)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

go spurs go

The Spurs win.
And like we all said, Tony Parker was MVP.

I know this isn't news, but i would have my Spurs memorabilia repossessed from my family if i didn't post about it.

No offense to the Cavs or their fans, but this really wasn't much of a game. Or a series. It was by far the easiest series the Spurs had in the playoffs.

But don't worry Cavs fans. You have a bunch of ex-Spurs running your team and a class act organization. You will win championships. Plural. Soon. It took us Spurs fans several painful years of watching the team blow leads, give up turnovers, and play streaky. The Cavs remind me of the Spurs circa 1996-97. All they need is more patience, more experience, and a good point guard.

But of course in the modern era of free agency it is hard to keep a team together right? So which Spurs are up as free agents for next year? Michael Finley, Fabricio Oberto, Jacque Vaughn, Melvin Ely, and Danny Fortson. Yeah. Cavs free agents? Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic.

I'm calling it right now. Next year: Cavs vs. Spurs final again. This time it goes 6 games. Spurs still win.

balsillie, bringer of chaos

New stories on the Balsillie's moves here and here. Read them.

I vote we rename Balsillie "Balls-y". He is moving really fast and i think he's making the NHL mad. He just may screw up his chances of getting this team.

Summary from those articles: Balsillie is now offering rights for those in Hamilton to buy seat rights (yes, from Ticketmaster) for the "Hamilton Predators" (ad to the right)

Of course, he doesn't own the team, and just requested a meeting with the NHL a couple of days ago to discuss the purchase. That meeting was scheduled for the 19th and was to make a full formal presentation on the 20th, for the purchase to be made final on July 1st. (By the way, the team, whoever owns it, has to invoke the default attendance clause by June 30th). Well - the NHL just canceled that meeting. They said that the papers Balsillie submitted were incomplete. They also pointed out that the board needs more time to vote on some procedural things apparently.

This makes me think two things: either 1) Balsillie isn't as good a business man as we thought and maybe he didn't think this stuff through or 2) the NHL board of governors is already throwing up roadblocks to Balsillie's bid.

Either way, i am liking Balsillie less and less every day.

Oh - and a Senators fan just did this to the ad from above. I love it.

maverick owner for the predators?

[This article was written a while back - i am sooo glad Balsillie didn't get the team now, and it looks like a local group will be buying the team - possibly with Todd Wagner or someone from outside as an investor - check here for the latest Predators news]

You've heard me say several times that i think Balsillie will be a good owner because of his similarity to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban is stinking rich, and a fan first, owner second. He has repeatedly used his influence as an owner and bottomless pockets to go up against the league and advocate for change. As much as many people are annoyed by him, I think his influence has by far been positive, and there is no question all my friends that live in Dallas love him and say that he puts together a fantastic product.

For those that haven't been following the news, there are tons of reports of Balsillie making everyone mad, telling Nashville that he would like the team to work here, though he has yet to actually talk to anyone from the Nashville, and has been telling the city of Hamilton, Ontario that he wants to move the team there. Most of all, he is really frustrating the league and the Board of Governors of the NHL (owners) before he's even got the team. The trick here is that very group has to approve his purchase of the team, and then again approve the move. There is no question we're headed for some messy legal wrangling.

So while Balsillie would possibly be a good "Cuban-esque" owner, why not wish for the real thing?

The Nashville Post (the one that broke the news of the sale in the first place) just pointed out that Mark Cuban's business partner Todd Wagner, is buying a large plot of land in Nashville to build an estate and live here part time. Cuban grew up a rabid Penguins fan in Pittsburgh and has publicly considered buying the Dallas Stars and was rumored to be interested in buying his childhood team when the Penguins were up for sale and even said on his blog that he knew he would regret not buying a hockey team.

If Balsillie yet again ticks off the NHL ownership and doesn't get the Predators (which i have to say i am starting to hope for), how awesome would it be to have Mark Cuban buy the team?

Craig Leipold: If you don't sell to Balsillie, PLEASE PLEASE sell to Mark Cuban.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

predators benefit concert

SaveThePredators.com has organized a concert to support keeping the team in town. The show will be on July 10th at the Rutledge and feature Small Time Rock Stars (who frequently perform as the house band at Predators games), Kink Ador, and others.

The part that i think is really great is how they are working this. The concert is a benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee - that also supports the Preds.

Here's how it works: proceeds from the $10 ticket price will go to buy Predators tickets, which will then be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs. So while i don't think you could exactly use this as a direct tax write-off, it's a genius way of supporting the Predators and the community all at the same time.

See you there!

too much time on your hands: part 2


And while i'm on the topic of cool tech...
I'll take either of these. I'm not picky.

Monday, June 11, 2007

let the shopping begin

I am happy to announce the opening of my wife's online retail store:

The mission of ghia is to provide socially responsible shopping at an affordable price. Many of their products are made by independent artisans located in the Middle Tennessee area, while other products are fair trade imports from Asia.

Go check it out!

I really am very proud of her and this store. Though in my former life i was a web designer, she did this almost entirely on her own. Its a killer site from top to bottom, and she tackled the full intricacies of secure e-commerce, which i never did.

I love that her goal here really is to be socially conscious (fair trade, supportive industries, local artisans, etc) but affordable. And with lots of research and hunting, she found suppliers that let her pull it off.

I also can't wait until more of her own designs get to be put on the site. She's still wrestling with some printers for getting those made and on her site, but they will be coming soon.

Now seriously, everybody go buy something.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

finals mvp

[Half-time of game 2 between the Spurs and the Cavs]

I thought i was going to be all smart and be the first to bring this up, but then Dan Patrick kinda mentioned it during the half-time break.

Tony is a scoring opportunist. He is a master of exploiting what defenses give him, but against a strong defense (like Detroit several years ago) he has to defer to his able team mates. That's fine. He's a point guard. That is what he's supposed to do. So far Cleveland can't stop him and isn't playing particularly well - so he's having a huge series.

Tony Parker may well end up the finals MVP. As solid as he is playing and running the team, he is putting up gawdy stats and playing very solid defense.

Tim Duncan has so far played very well too, but two factors are keeping him a step behind Tony. 1) He is just being Tim. He has been so dominant for so long, that it doesn't feel like he is having a great series. 2) He doesn't have to. Tim is great at taking over games and winning them. Getting the blocks and stops when it matters and scoring at will against defenders.

But i honestly think that if Cleveland was putting up some kind of a fight, Tim would be the MVP. He would stand out for his ability to close out games, and be the go-to guy. As it is, Cleveland is so under-matched, that Tony is being able to put on a clinic on how to drive the lane and draw contact.

So in a close series, Tim gets it.
In this one, Tony gets it, and deserves it.

Oh, and Cleveland fans, do not despair. You'll be back. Mike Brown, Danny Ferry, and LeBron James are modeling themselves after the Spurs. This model works. There is a Cleveland dynasty coming down the road. This year is just not your year.