If you asked Nashville Predators fans a month ago if Shea Weber would be signed to a long-term deal by the Preds, they would have told you yes. No problem. Well, all of that certainty is now long gone.
Weber and the Predators attended an arbitration hearing at 8:00 a.m. in Toronto on Tuesday morning, meaning that no deal has been made between the two sides as of now. Initial reports out of the arbitration hearing are that Weber is asking for $8 million and the Predators are asking for $4.75 million. Before you panic(I did at first), that offer by the Preds is simply a part of negotiations with the arbitrator. The actual price will most likely fall somewhere in between those two figures.
It is still possible for the two sides to come to an agreement before the results of the hearing are announced. The bottom line is that this is an extremely dangerous path for Nashville. In the arbitration process, it rarely is good for long-term stability between the team and player.
Full-fledged panic has taken over the fan base of the Predators, and for valid reason. Nashville fans know that this isn't good. The fair question to ask is how did it get to this in the first place? What changed from the end of last season when both sides said a deal would be done to now? Who is to blame?
To be honest, it's far too early to place blame in this situation, simply because I wouldn't even know where to begin. There are so many questions that are unanswered. Does Weber truly want to be in Nashville? Did the front office royally screw this up? I can't fathom an answer to either question because there's simply no way of knowing at this point.
The tune for the franchise has changed almost literally overnight. The "window of opportunity" is now in legitimate danger, and it's taking it's toll on PredNation. Things have been as tense today as I can ever remember, except for when there was a legitimate chance of losing the franchise in Nashvillle.
It's way too early to abandon hope. A deal can still be worked out, and arbitration isn't necessarily the end of the world. However, by no means is it an option that is preferred. And I don't like it at all.