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Craig Leipold was formally awarded an NHL franchise on June 25, 1997.  The successful business entrepreneur, family man and community supporter challenged his Nashville Predators management team from that day on: build an organization that would evolve into a cornerstone of the community and become a winner on and off the ice. The organization was to be bold, never lose sight of the ultimate goals and be a model for others to follow.

Under Leipold’s ownership, the Predators were dedicated to building a long-term winning franchise, playing an important role in the community through service initiatives, providing a fun and entertaining game-night experience and building strong relationships with their fans and corporate partners.

Under Leipold’s nine-plus seasons of ownership, the Nashville Predators were a model of stability and continuity on the ice. The club is one of few in professional sports that maintains the same general manager (David Poile) and head coach (Barry Trotz) as it did 10 years ago. In the process, the club transformed from an expansion team into a consistent contender, and in 2006-07, Nashville’s all-time record passed the .500 points percentage mark.

During his time as an NHL owner, Leipold has been a tireless advocate for the professional hockey industry. Appointed by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Leipold served on both the League’s Executive committee and Audit committee. Steadfast in his belief that a new collective-bargaining agreement needed to give smaller markets like Nashville a chance to succeed economically and on the ice, he was a member of the League committee that negotiated the CBA with the NHL Players’ Association in 2005. He is also a strong advocate for the new, more “fan-friendly” NHL, including the rule changes to promote a more entertaining competition and increased fan access to the product. Following the lockout, Leipold was recognized by The Hockey News as No. 22 on its annual ranking of “People of Power and Influence” (Jan. 3, 2006).

Through the Predators Foundation, nearly $2 million has been awarded to community service and charitable organizations since 1998. Predators players, management and GNASH are regularly in the community, be it hosting on-ice or off-ice hockey clinics, reading to students or lending support to a variety of fund-raisers and community events.

Additionally, the Predators made an investment in Nashville and Middle Tennessee by bringing the NHL Entry Draft to the Sommet Center in June 2003. The event brought the community extensive international exposure and a significant economic impact as over 2,500 guests from the NHL, member teams, media and draft prospects descended upon Music City.

Before bringing an NHL expansion team to Nashville, Leipold founded Ameritel Corporation, a telemarketing firm that specialized in business-to-business sales contracts for major companies. He then purchased Rainfair Corporation, a 125-year-old manufacturer of protective clothing and footwear. Leipold also formed Powers Management Corporation in 1997. The company is responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the Sommet Center, a venue that has received numerous national awards for operations and accommodations.

He was named Sports Person of the Year during the Predators’ inaugural season, the 1999 Father of the Year by the Nashville Father’s Day Council and the Easter Seals Nashvillian of the Year in 1999.

Craig and his wife Helen (Chairman and Chief Executive officer of Johnson Outdoors, Inc. and Chairman of Johnson Financial Bank Corp.) reside in Racine, Wis. They have five sons: Kyle, Connor, Curtis, Bradford and Chris.