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Proteau's Blog: Problem solved

• The Tampa Bay Lightning finally dealt with their most obvious problem Thursday – associate coach Craig Ramsay. Yup, Ramsay obviously was the reason why their defense was Olsen Twin Thin and why their goaltending alternated between solid and gaseous. I guess they won't have to choose which one of their ‘Big Three' to trade now, either.

And since the Bolts are looking for an assistant coach who better relates to head coach John Tortorella, allow me to throw out a few suggestions: Al Swearengen from Deadwood, former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver and Dick Cheney. You're welcome, Jay Feaster.

• Sorry to sound like such a Negative Nelly, but Craig Leipold's press conference announcing the sale of the Predators (and the absence from that press conference of new owner Jim Balsillie) should tell Nashvillians all they need to know about the extremely tentative future of the NHL in their town.

I don't care how softly Leipold tries to couch it; there is simply no logical explanation for a guy sinking hundreds of millions into a money-pit of a pro sports operation unless he sees an avenue for a quick turnaround. That avenue, unfortunately for Preds fans, leads directly through Canadian customs.

And as I said on Darren McFarland's radio show Thursday, this entire episode is yet another indictment of Gary Bettman's commissionership. At the very least, Bettman could've pointed Balsillie toward a franchise such as the Florida Panthers, who have nowhere near the fan support the Predators possess.

Giving up on a relative neophyte of a hockey town after a decade – even less, if you consider the ‘New' NHL has been around for only two seasons – is simply shameful. My sympathies go out to everyone in Nashville who has embraced the game and attempted to grow it there. You deserve much better than to be treated like this.


FEEDBACK:
I had to take Nashville off of my "teams I hate" list because of a friend who is so diehard a Preds fan that he goes to out-of-town to catch games as well. Beautiful arena, in a great town, with 12,000 regular fans per game for a team with 110 points during the season? I guess small-market teams are the WMDs of Bettman's reasoning for a new CBA. Okay, so we're not trying to save small-market teams. Is it about spreading democracy, uh, I mean hockey, in foreign countries (like Canada). Let's face it...it's ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!
- Joe Willix

In the THN Puck Poll, I voted for Nashville to move simply because I want to see another franchise in southwestern Ontario. Truthfully I agree with Adam, I would love to see the Preds stay in Nashville, and have the Panthers move north instead.
- Dave

Lose the anti-southern hockey BS. I'm from Canada, living in Florida and am a season ticket holder of the Panthers, and am tired of the holier-than-though crap "us" Canadians spew.... We put our arrogant noses in the air, not accepting the non-traditional markets, slagging them whenever we can, and then wonder why they aren't successful. Gee, any amateur psychologists out there?!? Seems to me Canada hasn't done so well supporting the Jets, Nordiques, and not too long ago the Senators.... The Panthers drew more fans at home and on the road then the Predators.... Plus the corporate sponsorship for the Panthers is quite extensive, unlike the Preds. Based on your simple comment about attendance, Boston, New Jersey, NY Islanders, St Louis, and Chicago should all be moving ahead of the Panthers and Preds, as well... Where's the rumoured list of where these teams are going?!? How long do we have to wait before you start passing judgement on those cities?!? The Panthers do more in a week to get the fans involved than your mighty Leafs or Habs do in a year... Last summer they had more than 10 BBQ's for fans to meet the players (2 already this summer); during this past year they had autograph sessions every Saturday plus 2-3 public appearances each month, plus state of the union addresses for the season ticket holders where players up through the owners speak to the ticket buyers.... They are trying and are making progress; making the playoffs will make a big difference and that's not a climate thing... that's a Keenan thing (Canadian isn't he?!?) Maybe try being positive with suggestions rather than just pointing fingers all of the time. Maybe then you'll get some credibility back from the readers. Until then some of us will just have to try and undo the harm you do in our hockey markets....
- Ian

Adam, Come on, leave South Florida alone. If we had Nashville's talent, we would sell out every night, including the regular season.Go back 11 years and look.
- michael harris

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