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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman visits Predators amid move rumours

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman downplayed speculation about the Nashville Predators possibly moving to another city.

"There is a lot of media speculation from other places about the future of this franchise," Bettman said Thursday night before the Predators' game against St. Louis.

"That speculation is completely unfounded based on what I have observed over time and observed here today."

Bettman met with Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, and had lunch with Predators chairman David Freeman and the rest of the owners.

"When I come into town I like to touch base with the people who are important to the franchise and the people to whom the franchise is important," Bettman said.

"I try to get a sense of how things are going here such as the state of the economy, which seems to be a hot topic for everybody. I think everyone is feeling pretty good about the franchise these days.

"Based on what I heard today, everyone is committed to this franchise.

"We think long term it is going to work. David was on my radio show and indicated that the franchise is going to break even this year. In this environment, with all of the work he has done, that is a very telling statistic."

Bettman said that a previously announced plan that the Predators' ownership group would buy up tickets if necessary to reach the 14,000 level in order to qualify for revenue sharing, would not have been an accepted approach.

"That doesn't work," Bettman said. "You just can't buy up your own tickets. Tickets have to be sold in the ordinary course and at the dollar amounts that they are available to the general public.

"Based on the information I got today, and based on how the attendance has been, particularly for the last nine games, they have every expectation they are going to meet the threshold on their own without any problems.

"It is really a non-issue."

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