Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 7/24/12

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 21: Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on January 21, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
After what appeared from the outside as an excruciating five-and-half days of internal organizational debate, the Nashville Predators announced on Tuesday that they will match the 14-year, 110-million offer sheet to captain Shea Weber, their franchise player. Last Thursday, Weber signed the front-loaded offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers, which now commits the Predators to pay Weber an enormous amount of bonuses over the next six years: reportedly 27 million in the first calendar year and 68 million over the first six seasons. Weber will average 13.3 million over the first six seasons a virtually unprecedented sum in NHL history. The Predators had until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to match the offer, otherwise, Weber would have become a Flyer. Having already lost All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter on July 4 to Minnesota after Suter signed a 13-year, 98-million contract, the Predators would have been gutted if they had lost Weber. Their compensation would have been four first-round picks had they elected not to match the offer sheet. Weber has finished second for the last two seasons in the balloting for the Norris Trophy, which is given to the NHL's top defenseman. Suter might be a smoother skater Suter's average time on ice ranked third in the NHL last season but the 6-foot-4, 232-pound Weber provides size, menace, leadership and offensive skills, qualities that differentiate him from Suter. At the same time, Weber's average time on ice still ranked fifth in the NHL. Weber's 19 goals last season were tied for the most in the NHL by a defenseman. With the 26-year-old Weber in his prime, the Predators have advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the last two seasons. Now, the Predators can go about trying to fill in the roster around him they already have re-signed defenseman Hal Gill, centers Paul Gaustad and Colin Wilson and left wing Sergei Kostitsyn in recent weeks to try to build on what they have done. Predators chairman Tom Cigarran and CEO Jeff Cogan issued a joint statement on the matter. "Most importantly was the reaction to whatever decision the organization reached and the impact it would have on our fans, sponsors and marketing partners," they said. "We wanted to insure that our decision reflected not just the feelings of these groups but also conveys a strong message to them that our actions would speak for us and demonstrate our commitment to them. It was absolutely essential that they understand and believe that we are doing everything possible to ice a Stanley Cup competing team each and every season."
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