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Original owner selling Nashville Predators to Canadian billionaire

"This is truly one of the toughest days of my life," said Leipold. "I poured my heart and soul into this franchise for 10 years." The sale must be closed by June 30. Approval before that date from the NHL's board of governors would be required.

Attendance at Predators home games in 2006-2007 averaged just over 13,500 - 2,000 below the NHL average, even with some of the lowest ticket prices. The team amassed 110 points - third-best in the league - but still lost US$15 million.

"It's time to give someone else the chance to take the Nashville Predators to the next level," Leipold said during a news conference.

Leipold predicted that "we'll have hockey here for a long time" if attendance improves. A default clause in the team's arena lease can be triggered June 19 to give one-year notice of departure if attendance remains below 14,000 during the 2007-2008 season.

"I have come to the conclusion I can not make it work here," said Leipold.

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