Predators owner Craig Leipold and representatives of the local group hoping to keep the team in Nashville met Wednesday with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"Craig is trying to afford the local group every opportunity to put an offer in place. Beyond that, it's not appropriate to comment further," Gerry Helper, vice president of communications for the Predators, said.

Herb Fritch, CEO of HealthSpring Inc. in Nashville, Tenn., and one of the leaders of the local group, didn't attend the meeting in New York but confirmed investors met with Leipold and Bettman.

"The results of the meeting is that Nashville has the opportunity to move very quickly to retain the Predators and to do so under local ownership," Fritch said.

Helper wouldn't comment when asked if the meeting was Bettman's introduction to the group of businessmen or a session that could produce a letter of intent. The group is trying to counter offers from Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and California businessman Boots Del Biaggio for the team.

Leipold is trying to sell the team after losing $70 million since being awarded the expansion franchise in 1997.

Balsillie's bid of $220 million has stalled since a letter of intent signed in May, and Del Biaggio offered $190 million. Del Biaggio has an agreement with the Sprint Center to own any NHL team that relocates to Kansas City.

The city of Nashville will hold a rally today, starting at 6 a.m. local time. It will feature a daylong radio show with the Gaylord Entertainment Center open to fans coming to survey potential seats. A separate local group is working to sell at least 3,000 season tickets, starting with the rally. The rally will include appearance by the state's first lady, Andrea Conte.

  • The Sharks signed wingers Riley Armstrong, Mike Iggulden and Tom Cavanagh and defensemen/left wingers Brennan Evans and Brad Norton to one-year contracts. Last season, all but Norton played for Worcester, the Sharks' AHL affiliate. Norton appeared in five games for Detroit, registering one assist.

  • Chris Clark could have become an unrestricted free agent after next season, but Washington's captain instead signed a $7.9 million, three-year contract. The 31-year-old right wing is coming off his best season, with 30 goals and 24 assists in 2006-07.

  • Minnesota re-signed enforcer Derek Boogaard to a multiyear deal. The 6-foot-7 Boogaard had one assist and 120 penalty minutes for the Wild last season.

    TENNIS

    Three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, 31, will return to the pro tour by playing doubles at the Aug. 17-25 Pilot Pen tournament, a little more than two months after she gave birth to her first child. Davenport, who hasn't competed since September 2006, will play doubles with Lisa Raymond at the hard-court event in New Haven, Conn. She gave birth to son Jagger on June 10.

  • Third-seed Sania Mirza, who had planned to skip the Cincinnati Women's Open in Mason, Ohio, but changed her mind, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Varvara Lepchenko.

  • Nicolas Kiefer continued his comeback from wrist surgery with a 6-3, 6-2 rout of Igor Kunitsyn in the second round of the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles.

  • Second-seeded Mikhail Youzhny beat Victor Hanescu 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the Dutch Open in Amersfoort, Netherlands.

  • Defending champion David Ferrer was knocked out of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, losing 7-5, 6-3 to Fernando Verdasco in the second round.

  • Second-seeded Martina Mueller advanced to the quarterfinals of the Palermo (Sicily) International with a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Conchita Martinez Granados.

    GOLF

    Michelle Wie plans to enter the Women's British Open in St. Andrews, Scotland, on Aug. 2-5. The 17-year-old also accepted a sponsor exemption into next week's Evian Masters in France, her first tournament since she withdrew from the U.S. Women's Open in June because of a sore left wrist.

    WNBA

    Alana Beard scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half to lead Washington (8-12) to a 65-58 comeback win over visiting Houston (6-15).

  • Cheryl Ford had 19 points and 18 rebounds, and Deanna Nolan scored 21 points to help host Detroit (15-5) to an 87-82 overtime win over New York (10-10).

  • Tamika Catchings had 22 points and 13 rebounds as Indiana (16-4) posted a 75-74 victory over visiting Chicago (8-13).