NHL Rumors: Nashville Predators Nearing Deal to Sell Franchise to Bill Haslam

Erin WalshJune 17, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 17:  A view of the jersey logo of the Nashville Predators during their game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 17, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

It appears the Nashville Predators will soon have a new owner.

The team's ownership group, which is led by Herbert Fritch, is inching closer to a deal to sell the franchise to former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, according to Sportico's Scott Soshnick, Kurt Badenhausen and Eben Novy-Williams.

Haslam, the brother of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, is worth $2.3 billion, according to Forbes, which values the Predators at $600 million.

The Predators entered the NHL in 1998 as an expansion team, though Fritch didn't join the ownership group until 2007, when the franchise's original owner, Craig Leipold, was considering selling the team to an investor that wanted to relocate the franchise to Canada.

Fritch assumed control of the team in January 2019 when he was named chairman. His reasons for wanting to sell the franchise are unclear.

Despite being one of the more lower-valued teams in the NHL, the Predators have a strong following in the Music City. Nashville had the league's second-highest attendance percentage (100.6) during the 2021-22 season, according to ESPN, trailing just the Vegas Golden Knights (104.2).

The Predators have grown particularly popular in Nashville since the team reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2017. Despite falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins that year, the team has reached the postseason every year since and in 15 of the last 18 seasons.

That said, the Predators had a disappointing 2021-22 campaign, finishing fifth in the Central Division with a 45-30-7 record and being swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche.

Nashville has struggled to contend for a title since that 2017 Stanley Cup run, and the team's new owner will be tasked with helping get the team back on track.

If the sale goes through, the Predators will become the second NHL team over the last year to be sold. The Pittsburgh Penguins were sold to the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, in November 2021.