Predators Shake Up Ownership Group, Naming Fritch New Chair
The Predators' ownership group will "soon name" Herb Fritch its new Chair, replacing Tom Cigarran, who has held the position since '10, according to Nate Rau of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Fritch has been a member of the ownership group since '07 and "owns the largest stake in the team." Under Cigarran, the team's business operation has "been on the upswing, culminating in the team's run to the Stanley Cup Final last year." Cigarran "earned positive reviews" for his decision to hire former Predators CEO Jeff Cogen and current Predators President & CEO Sean Henry to lead the team's day-to-day operations. By handing the reins to Fritch, the ownership group is "positioning itself for stability and endorsing the job Henry has done at the helm." When the ownership group was "forced to answer cash calls during its tumultuous early years, Fritch emerged as the owner with the largest stake in the team." The Predators "do not disclose owners' individual ownership percentages." It is likely that the change from Cigarran to Fritch "will come this summer after the Predators' playoff run concludes." Predators Dir of Communications Kevin Wilson said, "There is no timetable on when this will be official" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/26). In Nashville, Eleanor Kennedy wrote the transition has "previously been discussed and not occurred." For example, in June '16, the Tennessean reported "talks about the transition had been in the works, but were put on hold amid a lawsuit" filed by former Chair David Freeman. Cigarran "has been the face of the ownership group" since he became Chair in '10, which makes his retirement from the role a "significant symbolic shift for the franchise." However, the long-established transition plan "suggests Fritch taking over would not significantly shake up the team's management or operational strategy" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/25).
DELAYED FLIGHT: USA TODAY's Kevin Allen writes the Predators are "going to let fans smash an airplane with a hammer" before the team plays the Jets in the second round of the playoffs this week. It is a Nashville tradition for fans to "make a $5 charitable donation to the Predators Foundation to take a swing at a car painted in the opposing team's colors and logo before each playoff game." If the team wins the series, the battered car is "crushed down to cube size for public display." Predators VP/Marketing & Communications Danny Shaklan said, "To be honest, it was Sean Henry who said we should smash a plane -- everyone laughed." Someone "pointed out that the team had connections to an aviation company and a plane could probably be acquired," and will be "painted with a Jets logo" (USA TODAY, 4/26).