The NHL's Rumors, Recklessness, and Responsibility

Mark WilloughbyContributor IMarch 25, 2010


Want to hear a rumor?

The Hockey News could be acquired by the National Enquirer.

In the realm of possibility? Sure.

Probable. Not very.

A rumor. Somewhere in the realm of the possible, but not likely. If I threw this rumor out there, based on the fact that, yes, it is possible although not probable, I am trafficking in the laughable.

Yet the Hockey News and Ken Campbell would chose to traffic in a rumor that the Predators COULD POSSIBLY relocate to Kansas City and the vacant Sprint Center. In his March 22 column "Campbell's Cuts", Ken Campbell speculates that the Nashville Predators could be a team on the move, specifically to the aforementioned Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Campbell is no stranger to his venom and hatred toward the Nashville Franchise. In a Feb. 12, 2008 blog on the Hockey News website entitled "Why Not Just Move the Predators Now?", Campbell asserts that the Predators should just pack up and move to Kansas City. This article appeared AFTER the new ownership group was announced and the lease between the Predators and the City of Nashville was re-worked. Campbell's money quote in his article of 2008 was this:

"We all know that this lease simply bought Nashville a little more time to play hockey with the big boys before it goes back to being the minor league hockey city it should have always been. We all know the Predators will leave after the 2009-10 season when they lose $20 million or don't average 14,000, or both."

Sorry to disappoint you, Ken, but it ain't happening. And no matter how much you disparage the Nashville market or the Predators franchise, hockey is solid and growing here, and is here to stay.

You want to traffic in rumors, Ken? Then you at least owe your readers full disclosure of the basis for your rumors. To throw this nonsense out there with no basis in fact is like me starting the rumor that the Hockey News is going to be acquired by the Enquirer.

Let's talk about that vacant Sprint Center for just a moment. AEG owns the Sprint Center. AEG is also the owner of the Los Angeles Kings. Phillip Anshutz, the owner of AEG, was victimized by that slick con "Boots" Del Biaggio to the tune of $17 million which was ostensibly used as part of his payment to buy an interest in the Predators. Oh, by the way, Anshutz didn't bother to disclose this loan which would have represented cross ownership of another NHL franchise in violation of the by-laws and constitution of the NHL. There is no doubt that Del Biaggio was Anshutz's mole in the Predators operation and was attempting to backdoor the local ownership to move the franchise to Kansas City.

So the only connection to Kansas City, and it is a tenuous one, is with a convicted felon working clandestinely for another owner to move an existing franchise into that owner's vacant building. Sneaky is the nicest thing you can say about this tangled mess and the actions of AEG and Anshutz. Did you bother to include these facts in your reporting of a rumor that has no basis in fact or truth?

Does this checkered past mean that the Preds are moving to Kansas City? Absolutely not. Does the rocky relationship with the rocket scientists on the Nashville Sports Authority mean the Predators are doomed in Nashville? Definitely not.

The relationship with the Sports Authority is less than stellar. Tell me of any franchise that has a perfect relationship with their landlord. Tell me of any franchise that has an exemplary relationship with the city in which they reside. There are none. Sure, some are better than others, but none are perfect. They never will be.

Your "rumors" about relocation of the Nashville franchise are reckless and border on the sensationalism one would expect from the Enquirer. Keep it up, and you have a future there.

It's obvious that you have never liked the fact that Nashville has an NHL franchise. That's fine. You have a responsibility to your readers to state honestly why you don't like the NHL in Nashville. More than anything, you have a responsibility to traffic in truth and not specious rumor. If you want to report rumors, there are several blogs out there that would welcome you. Reckless reporting such as this does a disservice to your readers and to your employer.

Sure, the Predators have had difficulties during their short time in the NHL. These were the making of an absentee owner and a con man that wormed his way into the local ownership group. That's unfortunate, and it has created problems for the franchise. But the fact you refuse to acknowledge is that hockey is growing and succeeding in Nashville.The Predators have sunk deep roots in the community and they are growing the fan base and corporate support every year. Your vitriol and rumors will not change that fact.

You have a wide audience, and spouting these rumors are nothing but an attempt to damage a franchise. That is reckless and irresponsible. You are better than this.

Then again, maybe we shouldn't expect better out of you.

By the way, did you hear the rumor about Ken Campbell...


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