Preds back up their talk, match Philly’s contract


In a glorious turn of events, the front office backed up their tough talk for the last two years and locked up the best defenseman in the league for likely the duration of his career. Amid speculation from media and his agents doing no one any favors, Weber’s massive front-loaded offer sheet was matched by the guys on 501 Broadway. It’s not like they had any realistic choice.

The best part about today? Revisiting articles and tweets that look a bit foolish now.  I’m sure many had doubts on Nashville paying his salary during the first two years, but this is the same team that was prepared to pay Ryan Suter and Zach Parise a ton of coin as well. But at the end of the day, a team should not let any other team bully them economically.

Tomorrow, be sure to read my response to the current feature running on Too Many Men On The Site regarding the captain of the Predators. I was asked to write about “who should be the next captain, since (mine) just basically left”. Um… about that…

Firstly, here’s the press release from the brass:

"To Predators Season Ticketholders, Partners and Fans,In the most important hockey transaction in franchise history, we are pleased to share with you the news that, after much careful analysis, we have decided to match the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet to Shea Weber, insuring that Shea will be your team’s captain and leader for the next 14 years!As you might imagine, there was no debate whatsoever regarding whether or not we wanted Shea. That was indisputable. He is our first homegrown team captain. He has been selected to the First All-Star Team in each of the last two years. Though he has finished second in the Norris Trophy voting in each of the last two seasons, we believe he is the best defenseman in the National Hockey League. And he will remain a Nashville Predator, thanks to a 14-year, $110 million contract – the biggest in Nashville’s 15-year existence and largest in Tennessee professional sports history!You may recall that last summer we shared our vision for the Predators’ future. As part of our vision, we believed we were entering our Window of Opportunity in which with Shea and Pekka Rinne entering their prime years, we could compete on an annual basis for the Stanley Cup. We entered the 2011-12 season as the youngest team in the NHL, but through the support of longtime Predators Martin Erat and David Legwand; the commitment from experienced veterans Mike Fisher, Paul Gaustad and Hal Gill; another year of development from rising stars Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, Ryan Ellis, Gabriel Bourque and Roman Josi; and consistent performances from Patric Hornqvist, Kevin Klein and Sergei Kostitsyn, we are confident in our ability to build on last season’s performance, where we were the only Western Conference club to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The goal was to surround our core players with young talent that could grow, mature and compliment these players for several years to come. We are very much in our Window of Opportunity.With Shea’s return, our roster for the 2012-13 season is rounding into form. We have 13 returning forwards, five returning defensemen, and Pekka back anchoring our goaltending. Ownership continues to give General Manager David Poile and his staff all the necessary resources to compete for the Stanley Cup this season and for years to come!We did not take or make this decision lightly and we recognized the many ramifications it would have. Retaining Shea sends a powerful message to our own players and potential players that Nashville is a team that is in the hunt to win and this is a desirable place to play! Other teams will now know the Predators will do everything possible to retain its own star players and cannot be viewed as a franchise that can be raided.And for you, our fans and partners, this is a reinforcement of our understanding of our mission and our commitment to you. We are so appreciative of your support and never take it for granted. Your unwavering faith and belief in us is paramount. That support and passion is critical to our success.With this decision behind us, we continue to focus on our mission: Develop Bridgestone Arena into the number one sports and entertainment facility in North America with a Stanley Cup-winning Nashville Predators team as the centerpiece. With Shea Weber in the fold for the next 14 years, we will continue to contend for the Stanley Cup on an annual basis with a team anchored by one of the top goaltenders and top defensemen in the game.Thank you for your support and we can’t wait for the 2012-13 season to start and Shea Weber to lead the Predators!”BELOW is the Press Release:“Nashville, Tenn. (July 24, 2012) – In the most important hockey transaction in franchise history, Nashville Predators Chairman Tom Cigarran, President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile and CEO Jeff Cogen announced today that the team has matched the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet between the Philadelphia Flyers and defenseman Shea Weber, insuring that the Predators’ captain will remain with the franchise for the next 14 years.The decision to enter into the largest contract in franchise history was made by all parts of the organization, including ownership, hockey operations and business operations.As the organization analyzed the overall situation and worked toward a conclusion, the decision boiled down to three questions:– Was Shea Weber the individual that this franchise wanted to lead our team, a team that would compete for the Stanley Cup every year, for the next 14 years?– Would matching the offer sheet be in the best long-term interest of the team and organization?– Would a decision not to match the offer sheet send a negative message to current Predators players and other NHL organizations, a message that the Predators would only go so far to protect its best players and be pushed around by teams with “deep pockets?”The answer to each of the above questions is clearly “yes.” The organization spent the last several days analyzing all aspects of the offer sheet, from economic implications to the impact on the team hockey operations puts on the ice.Most importantly was the reaction to whatever decision the organization reached and the impact it would have on our fans, sponsors and marketing partners. We wanted to insure that our decision reflected not just the feelings of these groups but also conveys a strong message to them that our actions would speak for us and demonstrate our commitment to them. It was absolutely essential that they understand and believe that we are doing everything possible to ice a Stanley Cup competing team each and every season.With this decision behind us, we continue to focus on our mission: Develop Bridgestone Arena into the number one sports and entertainment facility in North America with a Stanley Cup-winning Nashville Predators team as the centerpiece. With Shea Weber in the fold for the next 14 years, we are closer to this mission, and will continue to contend for the Stanley Cup on an annual basis.Cigarran, Poile and Cogen will be available for a media conference tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT on the Bridgestone Arena concourse to discuss the organization’s decision.There will be no further comment from the Predators until Wednesday’s media conference.”"

I am squealing with glee. If the team sucks next year, meh. This is the first time we as Predator fans can now relax a little about the future. The best defenseman in the league and one of the top goalies are locked up, the prospects are deep, and the building is full. Cool!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, and be sure to keep it here… where we’ll take a moment to gloat and thump our chests at the over-zealous media mostly north of the border who couldn’t wait to scatter dirt on the guys in gold. Strap in, it’s about to get good.