Less an issue of negotiations, but votes and potential legal fights... LOL
The vote issues would clearly be a year-to-year situation because the league needs to set a schedule and establish a team in other ways. If the notice is given this month, the lease would potentially be in default until a June 2008 deadline. League votes could occur in a April-to-June 2008 window in that scenario, the timing depending if the Predators make the playoffs, as the league will have the attendance information to verify whether the 14,000 target has been met. Note that the city of Nashville cannot buy the shortfall of tickets post facto according to Rodier's interpretation of the lease.
Balsillie will likely have an exclusive arrangement / renovation deal for Copps in tow by then with the the City of Hamilton in full backflip mode in that eventuality.
Negotiations with the City of Hamilton would be a blur if there was a concrete posibility of a vote-delivered franchise relocation to Steeltown. A blur given Balsillie's past history with Hamilton re finder franchise rights to Copps, etc.
The NHL votes would happen. Balsillie wouldn't be "negotiating" with the other owners as much as confirming that the lease would be terminated because of the expired deadline on the default and that a relocation would be necessary. Politicking, not negotiations per se.
Balsillie would be approaching the league with a concrete relocation proposal to a predetermined city. It is clear to me that a Southern Ontario location is in play for any relocation -- and having Copps is a big advantage over a yet-to-be conceived Oktoberfesthalle in K-W. LOL
Hamilton's arena is bigger than Winnipeg's, it has a more certain hockey market in its metro and region than K.C. No other competitors for a relocation have the combination of an arena and potential NHLhockey market comparable to Hamilton's. Not Vegas. Not Portland, Oregon. Not Seattle. Only Winnipeg, with a shortfall in the range of 2,000 seats in their building from what I understand - but a markedly smaller demographic in a regional sense.
Quebec would be a longshot, IMHO, because Copps shapes up quite well versus Le Colisee and its metro area is still much smaller than Southern Ontario.
The eight-million-plus hockey market in the Golden Horseshoe may factor into the calculations of the NHL BoG far more swiftly if it's clear the Preds have to leave Nashville.
The Leafs and Sabres may scream blue murder, but if the league as a whole gives a simple majority to the relocation, it will become a court battle at worst to determine the territorial claims and fees therefrom.
If the league as a whole gives a Hamilton relocation a majority vote, then the NHL will work to reconfigure its TV deals to meet the needs of a Hamilton franchise in the most equitable manner for the rest of the member teams. It may break the Leafs' stranglehold of HNIC in Southern Ontario.
Balsillie is cutting a cheque for $225 million or so for the Preds now. He has deep pockets and enough opinion siding with a challenge to the NHL territorial policies to make any "negotiation" of territorial fees rather speedy, I would surmise.
The Ducks paid the Kings $30 million approximately as part of their franchise fee to enter the L.A. area. A $40-50 million tag today would be an equivalent going-rate if indeed a forkover would be required.
I think that's in Balsillie's ability to pay. I may be wrong, but given the press, I doubt it.
Here again, if Balsillie leaves an untenable Nashville situation with the required votes to relocate, then the accelerator will have been engaged.
A Hamilton team could play in the NHL within the next 3 years without major "negotiations," just the required votes and any court fights that come up that might drag long into the new life of a Hamilton franchise.
I wasn't trying to single you out as an armchair legal theorist ( although I might be in that select crowd too LOL). My comments are directed at those people who participate or read these threads who are immediately dismissive of a potential Hamilton team because MLSE or the Sabres could summarily quash it. 'Taint so easy.
Let's be clear. Balsillie has been doing his homework on these points. Nashville needs to step up behind the team to meet the targets specified in the lease.
Nashville Predators? Hamilton Tigers? Winnipeg Jets? Kansas City Scouts Mach Two? Nothing is certain except hockey fans in Nashville need to mobilize and snap up tickets post haste.
Oski Wee Wee,