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Preds officially match Weber’s offer sheet

The Nashville Predators officially announced today that they have matched the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet that restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers last week.

Is this the biggest moment in franchise history? I believe so, yes. Ownership made it clear that they would spend to the salary cap and match any offer sheet that came Weber’s way. Philadelphia offered a significant amount of money, and the Predators’ ownership stepped up to the plate and delivered. They walked the walk, much to the excitement of the fan base.

We will have a lot more on this later. In the mean time, here is a press release/message from the Predators…

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.

Here is a letter from COO Sean Henry…

Since purchasing the team in 2007, our ownership group has stated their intentions of building a franchise that will compete for the Stanley Cup year in and year out. As a loyal Predators fan and the lifeblood of our team, I am committed to sharing significant team and building news with those that help us to achieve our goals. So, it is with great excitement that I share with you a letter from our Chairman informing you of the boldest move in franchise history, that we have matched the offer sheet to Shea Weber.

Thank you for support and buying into our hockey and business plan. Your unwavering support has allowed us to put an amazing foundation in place that brings us closer to our goal; Develop Bridgestone Arena into the number one sports and entertainment facility in North America with a Stanley Cup-winning Nashville Predators team as its centerpiece.

We’ll be hosting a press conference tomorrow at 1:00 on the Bridgestone Arena concourse, I hope you can join us for lunch and to celebrate this significant milestone.

Again, thank you for your support!

Sean Henry
President and Chief Operating Officer

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