A Different Perspective
Those of you inclined to read this blog on a regular or semi-regular basis will notice that it will be coming to you from the greensward of Wimbledon - SW19, as the locals call it rather casually - for the next week or so.
That doesn't mean it'll be about tennis, necessarily. One just can't check out of the NHL action, for example, with free agency about to get rolling.
But one of the great benefits of this annual trip overseas is that it gives a sportswriter a chance to get a different perspective on things. You can bet the odious Pac-man Jones won't be front page news, for example, and neither will the Maple Leafs or the machinations of John Ferguson.
Ditto for the Nashville Predators and their on-again, off-again sale to Waterloo businessman Jim Balsillie, a story I won't miss at all.
While a terrific story on the surface, and possibly the biggest hockey story of the year if Canada were to gain a seventh NHL franchise, there's not been a tale to come down the pike in a while that is more smoke and mirrors than this one.
Nobody speaks their mind, and generally speaking, nobody speaks. Well, nobody other than William (Boots) Del Biaggio, who has been held up as the new bidder for the Preds despite having been quoted publicly on various occasions recently as saying he's not interested in buying the Nashville team.
Gary Bettman sure isn't saying what he means, and Jim Balsillie isn't saying a blessed word.
Meanwhile, everybody is talking off the record, which pretty much allows all sides to say whatever they want and not have to be accountable for it.
You'll read over and over that Balsillie's bid got into trouble because he wasn't following the rules, that's purely NHL spin. The truth is that Balsillie could have tried to buy Nashville and force a move later, but instead he has insisted on getting clearance to move up front.
How's that breaking the rules?
People suggest Balsillie ticked off the NHL by getting ticket sales rolling in Hamilton. Well, how is that different from Del Biaggio signing a contract to put a team into Kansas City, and making it clear that's his intention with the Preds?
Why is Del Biaggio okay but Balsillie's a renegade?
One theory is that Del Biaggio isn't serious, but that Preds owner Craig Leipold is just using the spectre of a competing bid to get Balsillie to surrender the notion of getting clearance to move the Nashville franchise wherever he wants at the same time he purchases the team.
Then again, that's just another guess.
Over in jolly old England, one can be sure there will be more interest in Tatiana Golovin's red undies, the weather forecast for the next 10 days and Gordon Brown's new administration than there will be over the future of the Predators.
Sounds good to me.