Preds dealing with distractions

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

The future ownership of the Nashville Predators is as uncertain as what the team is capable of on the ice.

Eager to prove they're better than their early record indicates after losing a handful of key players to trades or free agency this off-season, the Preds players are hoping the sale of the franchise is nearing an end.

Today is the deadline for exclusive negotiating rights between a Nashville-based group and current owner Craig Leipold.

It doesn't mean the local bid will die, but it gives Leipold more options, which may lead the team out of town.

Doing their best to avoid distraction, goaltender Chris Mason admits the situation is difficult to ignore.

"You think about it a little bit. Everybody wants closure to the situation because, quite frankly, I think everybody's sick about hearing about it, talking about it," said Mason. "You kind of want it just to get done and move forward instead of having the uncertainty."

Mason and head coach Barry Trotz both said game days help them forget about the business side of things, but they don't want to be entirely in the dark.

"They're informed but it's not consuming to them," said Trotz of his charges. "You have to stay on top of it. There will be questions from your players or the media.

"It's more of a distraction probably when we're not playing than it is when we are playing. Once you start playing, it better not be a distraction.

"We've just got to block it out. We're going to be in Nashville hopefully for a long time ... or a few years. We don't know. All we know is we're here this year, so let's live in the moment. It's all we can do.

"Hopefully the ownership group can meet all the requirements and let us go forward."

Despite a lack of corporate support over the years, and at best a second-billing to the Tennessee Titans NFL franchise, the Predators have been a team on the rise for years leading into the so-far unsuccessful current campaign.

"It's been a difficult year," admitted Trotz. "A little bit of a punch in the stomach, if you will."


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