Report: Dallas Stars may not have new owner until late June

While we’re focused on following ownership stories in Phoenix, Atlanta, and St. Louis as well the Dallas Stars are inching closer to solving their own front office mess.

Dallas is in the process of getting things moving forward with Canadian businessman Tom Gaglardi to have him purchase the Stars from Tom Hicks. Hicks has been looking to get out of owning the Stars for some time now as he’s got his hands full with selling his other sports ventures like the Texas Rangers and his stake in Liverpool soccer. Gaglardi has emerged as the main man and while it’s a virtual certainty he’s going to be the next owner thanks to a deal that could be worth around $250 million, it appears they’re going to have to sweat things out a little longer to get things squared away.

A report from the Dallas Morning News today states that things might not be completed with the Stars and Gaglardi until late June. Mike Heika has the details on how the formality of a bankruptcy hearing will be needed to see if anyone is willing to outbid Gaglardi for the team.

That means while an official hearing might last only three days, Gaglardi would not be able to become the owner and authorize moves until late June. That window also goes for anyone who might try to outbid Gaglardi before the team goes to a prepackaged bankruptcy hearing or during the hearing, the sources said.

A bankruptcy hearing will be necessary to clear the team of potential lawsuits from current creditors. Because not all creditors are paid when a sale is completed, teams often are moved through prepackaged bankruptcy hearings. The Chicago Cubs did it in 2009, and the Rangers did it in 2010.

The Rangers’ hearing became cumbersome because a competing bid was put forward. The Stars are hoping their hearing will be quick and clean because they have learned from previous negotiations, the sources said.

The Texas Rangers had some drama come forth in their auction thanks to numerous parties wanting to get in on buying the team. We’re suspecting that a hockey team in Dallas, despite its successes, won’t attract the same kind of attention especially at that steep cost.

The other curious part is the timing of when things might be completed. If things are done by late June and Gaglardi is in place to start making decisions on where and how he wants to spend money, it could make a huge difference as to whether or not they get to keep All-Star forward Brad Richards.

Richards is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and he’s made it clear in not so many words that if the ownership situation is still up in the air in Dallas he might not be willing to stick around to see it get straightened out. If the Stars lose Richards over the summer, the pressure will be on GM Joe Nieuwendyk to find a way to replace is his playmaking ability. It’ll also cause fans to question why Nieuwendyk didn’t make a move to deal Richards to make sure the team didn’t lose him for nothing. If things don’t work out in a timely way, it’s possible you could see Richards traded before July 1 so a team can get exclusive negotiating rights with the UFA to be until July 1.

Still, that’s putting the cart before the horse in regard to Stars ownership as they’ll need to get Gaglardi squared away first before even deciding on what they can do about Richards. Stars fans will just have to hope things are taken care of in time so Richards doesn’t get away without a fight.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”