Dallas Stars on the brink of being sold… Or are they?

Thumbnail image for Hicks2.jpgThe Hockey News’ Ken Campbell put a charge into things around the hockey world today saying that the Dallas Stars were on the verge of being sold to Canadian oilman Bill Gallacher for $225 million. Not only would the sale involve Gallacher but also a host of other wealthy guys, including one man who’s already kind of a big deal in Dallas.

THN.com has learned Calgary oilman Bill Gallacher, who also owns the Portland Winterhawks of the Western League, heads up a group of investors that has reached an agreement in principle to buy the Dallas Stars for about $225 million. The deal has yet to be signed and either side could back out of it, but it appears the deal will get done soon.

One possible scenario has Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban jumping back into the fray. Cuban was reportedly turned off by the $350 million price being asked by Hicks, but might be enticed by a much lower price. Owning the Stars would effectively give Cuban 100 percent of the revenues generated at the American Airlines Center, one of the busiest venues in North America. Currently co-tenants in the arena, the Mavericks and Stars split arena revenues 50-50, including non-sports events such as concerts.

I don’t know about you, but if Mark Cuban were to get involved at NHL Board of Governors meetings or start showing up to Stars games in full gear while yelling at the referees I’d watch every single Stars home game just waiting to see Cuban lose his mind over everything. Nevermind that Cuban was shot down by the NHL Board of Governors years ago when he tried to get involved in buying the Pittsburgh Penguins, jumping in as a minority buyer would surely pass muster…

That is if this report were totally locked in as being accurate. Take it away Five For Fighting.

I talked to two NHL sources and they say that The Hockey News report that Bill Gallacher has agreed to buy the Stars for $225 million is not accurate.
They say the sale process is ongoing and that Gallacher is a candidate to buy the team, but that they have not gotten as far in the process of agreeing to a price with any buyer. One said the reported price was too low.

More than $225 million for an NHL team? That’s the kind of mad money that only Jim Balsillie would throw around. Of course, if eager-to-sell-and-hide Stars owner Tom Hicks is insistent that he get $350 million for the Stars, he might be waiting around for a long, long time. At some point, if you’re eager to sell, you just have to cut your losses and get out but Hicks is a better businessman than I am for probably a few reasons. Then again, I also don’t own the Texas Rangers and Liverpool Football Club either so what do I know?

For Stars fans, if this initial report from Ken Campbell happens to be not true, the hockey fans in Dallas are going to go ballistic because while grown up men are fighting over hundreds of millions of dollars, the team is in a funky brand of limbo. They’ve got some players they’d like to move for salary reasons (Mike Ribeiro) and at least one restricted free agent they’d like to get locked down under contract (James Neal).

Meanwhile, general manager Joe Nieuwendyk can’t really do anything overly drastic without knowing what he can do financially to appease ownership. Obviously, the sooner things get taken care of it’ll be better for the team but until then, the waiting continues.

Update:

Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News adds this soul-crushing update to the Mark Cuban possibilities.

By the way, Mark Cuban’s e-mail response when I asked if he was indeed interested was: “not me, no idea who.”

Well that stinks.

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    Hagelin making ‘significant steps’ in returning to Pens lineup

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    It’s been nearly six weeks since Carl Hagelin last suited up for the Penguins.

    His return sounds like it’s on the horizon.

    Hagelin, out since Mar. 10 with a lower-body injury, was deemed “close” to coming back by Pens head coach Mike Sullivan, just ahead of tonight’s Game 1 against Washington.

    “[Hagelin] is a day-to-day decision at this point,” Sullivan said. “He took limited contact this morning. The next step, obviously, will be the full contact approach.

    “He is certainly making significant steps in the right direction here.”

    The speedy Swede missed the final 16 games of the regular season with his ailment, and all five games in Pittsburgh’s opening-round win against the Blue Jackets. The end result was just six goals and 22 points in 61 games played, down from the impressive stretch he had last season after being acquired from Anaheim.

    Pittsburgh is hopeful the 28-year-old can rejoin the team, and provide similar production as last year’s playoff run. Hagelin had six goals and 16 points in 24 games en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.

    Hagelin isn’t the only veteran forward that could make his return this season. Earlier this week, the Pens announced winger Chris Kunitz had been cleared for contact, and is available for the Washington series.

    Sweeney shares offseason plans for Bruins

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    The Boston Bruins had a relatively successful season, getting back to the playoffs after narrowly missing them the past two years.

    But another interesting summer awaits GM Don Sweeney, who has a number of areas he’d like to improve.

    From CSN New England:

    Sweeney listed the “middle of the [forward] lineup, transition-minded defensemen and the backup goaltender position” as places he had in mind for offseason upgrades. Those were glaring areas of need throughout the regular season and postseason. 

    More specifically on Sweeney’s to-do list: a left wing to be paired with David Krejci, a revamping of a third line that underachieved far too often and another top-four defenseman capable of moving the puck to go along with a more dependable backup goaltender situation than the Jekyll and Hyde performance from Anton Khudobin last season.

    Boston’s pending unrestricted free agents include Drew Stafford, Dominic Moore, and John-Michael Liles, the latter of whom turns 37 in November.

    At some point, the Bruins will need to find a replacement for 40-year-old Zdeno Chara. But the NHL’s oldest defenseman still has one year left on his contract, and he says he’d like to play beyond that.

    To start next season, the Bruins could go with a top four of Chara, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Charlie McAvoy, two lefties and two righties. Assuming they don’t re-sign Liles, adding another left shot for the bottom pairing seems an attainable goal for Sweeney. Adding another top-four d-man could be tough, though.

    Another situation to watch is the one with Ryan Spooner, the 25-year-old forward who found his way into Bruce Cassidy’s doghouse in the playoffs. Spooner is a pending RFA and arbitration eligible. He can be good offensively, but without the puck he’s still tough to trust.

    Sweeney did not share his plan for Spooner with reporters, but it’s safe to say the player’s future with the Bruins is uncertain.

    Panthers looking for ‘modern day guy’ as next head coach

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    There are just two coaching vacancies left — in Buffalo and Florida, respectively — and on Thursday, Panthers GM Dale Tallon outlined what the club is looking for in its next bench boss.

    “We’re looking for a modern day guy, a good communicator and a good teacher,” Tallon said, per WQAM radio. “Someone who is firm, but fair and can think outside the box a little bit, because creativity is important too as far as how you differentiate yourself from other teams playing a similar system.”

    To that end, the Panthers have already interviewed one candidate — University of Denver’s Jim Montgomery. Sportsnet reported Florida spoke with him on Monday.

    Montgomery, 47, has spent the last three years at Denver, building one of college hockey’s most elite programs. This year’s squad was anchored by Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher, U.S. junior shootout hero Troy Terry and, perhaps most interestingly, freshman scoring sensation Henrik Borgstrom — Florida’s first-round pick at last year’s draft.

    Montgomery aside, Tallon and the Panthers sound like they’re casting a wide net to find Tom Rowe’s replacement.

    The club reportedly reached out to Vancouver with interest in former bench boss Willie Desjardins. The Miami Herald floated the possibility of bringing in ex-Habs coach Michel Therrien, who resides in South Florida. Montreal radio station 91.9 Sports also connected Therrien to the gig.

    Put it all together, and the coaching decision doesn’t appear to be a rush job. Tallon all but cemented that last month, when he said there “are some candidates that are in the playoffs that we can’t talk to,” adding he might wait “until at least mid-June” to make a hire.

    Stars re-sign Janmark, who they ‘missed as much as anyone last season’

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    Mattias Janmark, the Stars forward that missed all of this season with a major knee injury, has been given a one-year, $700,000 extension, the club announced on Thursday.

    “Mattias is a played that we missed as much as anyone last season with the unfortunate injury he suffered,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said in a release. “We look forward to him returning to our group and getting him back for training camp.”

    Losing Janmark’s services this year was, as mentioned, a fairly big blow. After surprising onlookers by making the Stars out of camp in ’15-16 — a “great story,” according to Nill — Janmark had a pretty successful rookie campaign, scoring 15 goals and 29 points in 73 games.

    He also fared well in the playoffs, with five points in 12 contests.

    Today’s news all but alleviates concerns the 24-year-old’s knee problems might extend into next season, something former head coach Lindy Ruff alluded to last month.

    “I think there’s a question mark (about next season), but we don’t know to what degree yet,” Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “He’s progressing nicely. He still has a ways to go, but I think the fact he is practicing now and has gone this far always gives a guy like that a better chance for next year.”

    Janmark’s original injury occurred during the preseason, when he knee locked up in a game against Colorado.

    “He had a small segment, approximately 21 millimeters by 11 millimeters, that became displaced and is locked in his knee,” Nill said at the time. “It’s the bone and the cartilage, they both came off together.”

    Janmark underwent surgery to correct the issue, but his recovery was plagued by a preexisting congenital condition called osteochondritis dissecans. Nill said the likelihood of a full recovery was 80 percent.