Predators Prepare to Open Camp, Tune Out Distractions

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -The Nashville Predators are looking forward to making news on the ice again.

It's been a difficult offseason for a franchise that finished third in the NHL last season with a team-record 110 points only to lose in the opening round of the playoffs for a third straight time.

The status of the team has been the biggest question since owner Craig Leipold announced in late May he was selling the Predators to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie.

That deal fell through, and a group of Nashville businessmen has a $193 million deal to buy the team, but is waiting for Nashville's new mayor to take office to rework the arena lease to help secure financing.

"There's not much we can do about it except get ourselves ready and come to training camp and pray and hope the team will stay here,'' right wing J.P. Dumont said.

This is a very different team than the one that lost to San Jose in the playoffs.

Top goaltender Tomas Vokoun was traded to Florida in June, giving the job to Chris Mason. The Predators swapped the rights to pending free agents Kimmo Timonen, their captain and top defenseman, and forward Scott Hartnell to Philadelphia.

Top scorer Paul Kariya signed with Central Division rival St. Louis, and All-Star Peter Forsberg isn't expected back even if he does decide to return to the NHL.

The Predators did sign veteran defenseman Greg de Vries, left wing Martin Gelinas, center Radek Bonk and right wing Jed Ortmeyer.

"We feel like we have a very good team,'' center David Legwand said. "Still, some things are going to change obviously in our style of play.''


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