Although the Preds were able to keep Dumont, they have bigger problems to worry about. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Good for GM David Poile and the Nashville Predators organization.
The signing of J-P Dumont Friday clearly shows they’re not leaving town without a fight.
However, Dumont’s brand new, four-year, $16 million contract extension doesn’t mean the franchise is no longer likely on the road to relocation.
Don’t get me wrong – keeping the big winger for the next handful of seasons is definitely a great sign that management and ownership isn’t about to pare down the roster in the name of fiscal prudence.
Questions about Dumont’s now formerly pending free agency this summer would have hovered around him right up until the trade deadline; now, Barry Trotz & Co. can get back to the business of securing a playoff berth in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
What Dumont’s signing doesn’t do, though, is put an end to the swirling rumors about the Predators’ looming attendance crisis.
As noted by the Nashville Tennessean in mid-January, the team averaged only 12,618 fans per game, short of the 13,125 average they’d need to qualify for the NHL’s revenue-sharing program – and well short of the 14,000 average that would guarantee their current lease agreement to keep the team in town for the next three years.
Now, it may well be Dumont’s new deal helps the Preds stay competitive, and it may well be that a competitive team will bring it better attendance.
But let’s stop pretending we haven’t seen this movie before. Let’s acknowledge that Winnipeg, Quebec City, Hartford, and a host of other subsequently-relocated NHL franchises all had a core group of locals who fought valiantly in a losing battle.
I wish I were wrong, but that’s sure what the Predators’ situation looks like to me.