After months of uncertainty surrounding the future of the franchise, the Nashville Predators finally have a new ownership group in place.
They’ll get to see their $193 million acquisition take the ice for the first time as executives when the Predators (13-11-2) face off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night at the Sommet Center.
Since former owner Craig Leipold put the team up for sale earlier this year, various reports had them leaving Nashville for Hamilton, Ontario or Kansas City, Mo. On Friday, Predators Holdings LLC announced it completed the purchase of the team from Leipold and they will remain in Tennessee.
“On behalf of the ownership group, we are thrilled to complete the sale,” said new chairman David Freeman “We look forward to contributing to the Predators’ success on and off the ice and solidifying the franchise’s future in Nashville.”
The new owners quickly put its their stamp on the club by signing forward David Legwand to a six-year, $27 million contract extension through the 2014-15 season. Legwand, the team’s first draft pick ever, holds franchise records for goals (113), points (304), game-winning goals (28) and multi-goal games (15).
Nashville is 7-4-1 at home this season but is just 1-2-1 in its last four on home ice including a 5-2 defeat to Vancouver on Thursday. Jed Ortmeyer and Martin Erat scored for the Predators, who have managed three goals in their last two games after scoring 11 in its previous two.
“Any team you play nowadays is a tough one, so we just have to put this one behind us, correct our mistakes, move on and get ready for Anaheim on Saturday,” Nashville foward Jason Arnott told the Predators’ official Web site.
Erat, who leads the Predators with 16 assists and 25 points, failed to score a 3-1 road loss to the Ducks on Oct. 17 in the only meeting between the teams so far this season.
The Ducks appear to have overcome a slow start. They began the season 4-7-1, but are 10-5-3 in their last 18, including Friday’s 5-2 win in Chicago. Anaheim has won five of its last eight on the road after starting the season with six consecutive losses away from the Honda Center.
“We’ve obviously had some wake-up calls in the last little while,” said Ryan Getzlaf, who had a goal and two assists against the Blackhawks. “We need to bear down and play. We were able to do that tonight. We were a team.”
Friday’s win came two days after a 4-1 home win over Buffalo. The Ducks have scored three power-play goals in nine chances in those games.
“I think it’s just a matter of our ability to play and stick with the system we’ve put in place,” Getzlaf said.
The Ducks (14-12-4) will be trying to keep their resurgent offense going in Nashville, where they lost twice last season. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who made 39 saves against Chicago, stopped 28 shots in the win over the Predators earlier this season.
He’s 0-2-0 with 2.40 goals-against average in two starts since last winning at Nashville on April 1, 2003.