Report: Dallas Stars sale progresses as potential owner Tom Gaglardi agrees to terms

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While the Dallas Stars don’t have the same do-or-die ownership situation as the Phoenix Coyotes, there is at least one reason for urgency: Brad Richards’ pending unrestricted free agent status.

Getting a new owner in place wouldn’t guarantee the return of Richards, but continued uncertainty would almost certainly prompt his departure. As silly as it might be to worry about one player in the complicated scope of ownership situations, Richards was a huge reason the Stars overachieved this season, even if they ended up just short of the playoffs.

The latest news is that potential owner Tom Gaglardi agreed to a price and “most of the terms” to buy the team, according to the Globe & Mail.

Former PHT writer Brandon Worley points out that this isn’t the end of the process, though. The Coyotes situation should be a good example of why these processes aren’t done until the new owner is confirmed. Worley points out that the Stars would probably need to go to bankruptcy court before the process can be completed.

Two very important facts to take note of from this report, if true: This is the closest we’ve been to the sale actually going through since the team was put on the market well over a year ago, and just because Gagliardi has agreed to terms doesn’t mean that the sale is anywhere near final. He still has, apparently, a 30 day window of exclusive negotiating to narrow down the price and terms of the sale and there’s also the very real chance this thing has to go to bankruptcy court first.

While not exactly a certainty, it appears that the sale getting done prior to the unofficial “deadline” of July 1st is getting closer to becoming a very real possibility.

Interestingly enough, the sale would include a 50-percent share of the American Airlines Center, home of the Stars and NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. The NHL is reportedly against the team going to bankruptcy court and only half-confirmed the story, according to the Globe & Mail.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly declined to clarify the situation. He said in an e-mail message Monday the source’s information is “partially true and partially inaccurate. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to specify which is which.”

Gaglardi said he was “not at liberty to discuss” the situation.

The winning bidder over two Dallas groups – led by local oil men Doug Miller and Billy Quinn – Gaglardi is chairman of his family’s business, Northland Properties Corp., which counts a hotel chain, restaurants and ski resorts among its holdings.

Gaglardi, who in 2008 lost a court fight with Francesco Aquilini for control of the Vancouver Canucks, also owns the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL in partnership with NHL players Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi.

The Stars have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and are in a period of uncertainty after firing head coach Marc Crawford. The Globe & Mail reports that the team probably lost about $15 million in the 2010-11 season, which isn’t a shocking estimate considering their attendance issues.

I doubt that the ownership issues made an impact beyond the team’s most passionate fans, but it couldn’t help being that the team is undergoing a playoff drought and also lost well-known players such as Mike Modano and Marty Turco.

That being said, if the Stars can bring back Richards and add some depth to a top-heavy team, they could be a serious contender next season. Whether it’s Gaglardi or someone else, they’ll need an owner with deep pockets to do so. We’ll keep you updated as the Stars try to beat that July 1st deadline.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.