by J.R. Lind
This Week In The Drome: One way to make the hard sell, Bridgestone Arena is The Shire, Vandy's selective service, Brian Baker's lucky break and more ...
Tax vs. Spend: Salary caps in sports foster an environment of alleged parity. If teams can only spend to a certain level, the extent by which one team can outspend another is necessarily limited.
To that end, the ability for one team to compete with another has to — at some point — go beyond dollars and cents.
The NHL took things to the next level with its lockout-ending collective bargaining agreement, adding a salary floor to its cap, insuring teams couldn't operate on a shoestring.
By and large, an NHL player — especially a top-level one — is going to get the same salary from any team willing to pay it and fit him under the cap.
So how to woo? Teams can give the typical platitudes: chance to win, great place to live, "right fit" — whatever that means.
But a question I've always had: Do Nashville's teams lay out, in dollars and cents, how much more a player earns just by virtue of a playing in a ZIP code which starts with a 3 and a 7?
Tennessee, of course, has no income tax. There is a jock tax, but it applies only to
visiting teams three games a year maximum (and not to the NFL at all, for whatever reason), so it's basically a wash (Ed Note: Yep, I goofed on that originally)
So if a player is down to a handful of potential destinations, do David Poile and Ruston Webster point out the fiduciary benefit of living in a no-income tax state? Michigan, for example, has a flat 4.25 percent income tax. On $8 million in salary (for example), that's $340,000 annually. A player making $7.7 million in Nashville makes more, in a way, than an $8 million man in Detroit.
While Nashville can boast a relatively low cost of living, good schools, great weather (let's hope no one visited this week), and a population priding itself on not hounding the famous, it can also boast this: the paychecks go farther.
And as free agency approaches in the NHL, we can only hope David Poile has a tax manual at the ready.
The Week Behind
Fortunate Ones : As I kind-of predicted, Vanderbilt's John Jenkins, Festus Ezeli and Jeff Taylor all hopped off the draft board with some late first-round rapidity: Jenkins going 23rd to Atlanta, Ezeli 30th to Golden State and Taylor 31st (OK, that's the first pick of the 2nd round) to Charlotte.
Altogether, Jenkins probably ended up in the best situation. Atlanta was a playoff team — albeit not a very good one and sort of quietly was dispatched. At the least, he won't be asked to be the man right away. Ezeli has lots of upside and Golden State is a fun place to play by most accounts. And Jeff Taylor? He'll get the job of guarding No. 1 overall pick Michael Kidd Gilchrist in Bobcats training camp.
It's the first time Vandy's had three players drafted since 1974. And it makes ya wonder: Why weren't they better in college?
Treebeard and The Hobbits: The more anxious among the Preds' faithful turned into full-fledged nervous nellies this week.
There are precious few hours left until the wild west of NHL free agency begins, and as the clock ticks to zero, the Predators made just one signing this week: Brobdingnagian defenseman Hal Gill, the man we call Treebeard.
Gill is good at what he does. Mostly this is related to being a giant person. And if his match-ups and minutes are handled correctly, he is a useful — even an important — piece to the puzzle.
Poile said as much: “If things go as we hope they will he probably will play a lot with some of our younger players, players like Ryan Ellis or Jonathon Blum. He’s going to be good for us.”
The unspoken bit there is that things going the way they hope includes Ryan Suter's return. Hal Gill is great on a lower pairing, but ask him to play regular first pair minutes? Treebeard turns into a stubbly stump.
The Preds also drafted the new batch of prospects, opting for forward after forward with their first five picks, including a second-round selection of Pontus Aberg, who was listed as a Top 10 pick on many draft boards. Development camp at Centennial has open sessions Saturday morning from 9 to noon and Sunday afternoon between 2 and 4.
Garbage Time: Shea Weber is part of the NHLPA's collective-bargaining negotiating team. ... Sounds reliever Jim Henderson is a PCL All-Star. ... The Preds and Metro unveiled their new agreement. A vote from the Sports Authority should come today.
How Very Scandinavian : After signing a deal which will pay him $7 million annually for the next seven years, Pekka Rinne could have bought his new home pretty much anywhere: hiding behind a gate or escaping to Williamson County like so many of his teammates. He makes so much, in fact, he could have bought in Belle Meade.
But no. He opted for West Meade, a $1.03 million home — originally listed at $1.095 million. Fishel Properties should have asked David Poile about his goalie's negotiating skills.
Everything about it is oh-so-very Finnish. It's nice but not flashy. Peks — even though he clearly could have paid cash — put more than 50 percent down and took out a mortgage (for tax purposes, presumably).
From the listing: "Thoughtfully designed floorplan & energy efficient too!" ... "Energy efficiency certification through E3 Innovate."
No idea what that last bit means, but — like the spacious library — it seems like something Finns would be into.
The Week Ahead
Fête Du Déménagement By tradition, July 1 is Moving Day in Quebec, the day when most leases expire, creating a strange sort of accepted communal madness on the tony streets of Montreal and the rural byways of St.-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha!, an actual place.
So it also is with the NHL, July 1 its own day of communal madness and relocation.
The Predators are definitely parting ways with Andrei Kostitsyn — not a huge shock — but popular little sparkplugs Francis Bouillon and Jordin Tootoo, the latter a fan favorite allegedly offered a "substantial" contract which he turned down, thinking he'd fetch a better figure in the great out there.
Of course, those are all small potatoes when one considers that the Predators are the home (at least until Sunday) of the league's most coveted unrestricted free agent: Ryan Suter. He'll test the waters Sunday, but the Predators hope he returns to the roost.
His dalliance with the outside world has hamstrung the Predators to some degree, who need to fill some other holes — $10 says someone will say "Goal-Scoring Forward!" 134 times on Sunday — but certainly would love to lock up Suter long-term, thus helping their case to lock up Shea Weber for eternity too.
Worthless Prediction: I've never been moved off the line Suter will return. The longer his decision takes, the better for the Preds, as they'll have a longer window with which to demonstrate to Captain America they are still in it to win it.
That Fabulous Baker Boy : Watch Brian Baker play into the first weekend at Wimbledon! And, boy, did he catch a lucky break when Rafael Nadal got bounced by some no-name late Thursday. Could Baker — seriously — get to the quarters?
Worthless Prediction: The Drome's barely-contained homerism is gonna play the trump here: Baker gets through to the quarters and then anything can happen.
Who Could Have Seen This Coming? : The Titans seem to have acknowledged what some of us have known all along: tickets sales aren't what they used to be.
Because they got their paper sellouts last years, the Titans' brass were able to whistle past the graveyard, but this year, they're acknowledging the reality they aren't the sought-after ticket they used to be.
They're offering discounted half-season passes.
Titans veep Don MacLachlan told The Tennessean the team was being proactive:
“We sold out all the games last year and are confident we will again this year,” MacLachlan said. “But last year we had to wait to get a few games moved, so this year we took a proactive stance.
“We’re doing everything in our power to make sure we keep the sellout streak going, so we can get to 144 this year. A movement of a number of tickets like that will certainly help us.”
This is a smart move by the Two Toners, if for no other reason than the marketing folks seem to have stumbled on to something to market. But it also is a signal to team-watchers that the Titans aren't going to be caught unawares by sliding ticket sales again — as they seemed to be last year. And if they can hedge this off, perhaps they can hedge off a sharper decline.
The team has taken a lot of steps to improve the fan experience during this offseason. Upgrades are ongoing at LP Field, which may or may not include a bandstage eventually at some point maybe. And maybe Terry Tate will finally disappear from the Jumbotron because maybe someone will realize Friends is no longer on TV and no one's heard that awful "Story of a Girl" song in more than a decade.
Hey, and here's a novel thought: Maybe the team can win double-digit games, too. And maybe they won't have to gamble on half-season tickets again.
Comments, complaints, patriotic missives can all be sent to jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com. Enjoy your Fourth of July.