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Report: Stars officially file bankruptcy plan to sell the franchise

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The next step in the Dallas Stars sale process is complete. The team announced on Thursday that they have filed a prepackaged chapter 11 plan in United States Bankruptcy Court to aid in the team’s sale. Lenders have worked with the team to put together the plan that would sell the team to Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi for an estimated $230 million—yet the sale is still subject to higher bids within the context of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Straight from the Dallas Stars’ press release:

To facilitate the sale, Dallas Stars, L.P. has commenced a voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington, including the filing of a “prepackaged” chapter 11 plan. The chapter 11 process has the support of the National Hockey League and the Dallas Stars’ lenders, who voted to accept the prepackaged plan prior to filing. The prepackaged plan provides for a court-supervised auction of the Dallas Stars Club and other hockey-related assets. The purpose of the sale is to allow for a smooth transition in ownership, while ensuring that the Dallas Stars continue to play at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Plan provides that the Dallas Stars will pay and perform all of its obligations to its fans, players, employees, and vendors.”

It’s important to note that this is merely a procedural step in this particular sale. People will see the word “bankruptcy” and automatically assume that the Stars are yet another NHL team that is in financial dire straits. That’s not the case. In the Stars circumstance, there are various lenders who are owed debts that were incurred under the previous regime. In order to handle the debts within the context of the settlement, a prepackaged plan in Bankruptcy court is a viable solution to address all necessary parties. Still, there will be those outside the hockey world who will see “bankruptcy” and make the leap toward financial instability within the sport. That may or may not be true in other markets—but not in Dallas.

The news comes as the Dallas Stars’ players and coaches look to start the 2011-12 season on the right foot. Fortunately, the team’s sale should not affect the players on the ice or the inhibit GM Joe Nieuwendyk from doing his job. President Tony Tavares explained that it will be business as usual for the players starting training camp this week:

“This is a significant step toward completing the transition in ownership. We are pleased that our lenders have shown substantial support for the plan and the sale process, but the Dallas Stars are focused on one thing: hockey. The players and coaches begin Training Camp on Friday and we are all excited to start the new season.”

This season is shaping up to be a year of renewal for the Stars. Between the sale and a new coaching staff led by Glen Gulutzan, the team will look to create a new identity and get back to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. A young coach leading the young players on the ice will help—but solidifying stable ownership will be the most important thing the team accomplishes this season.

Maybe the Stars will be able to start spending money once again? We should find out in late November.

Devils’ Merrill undergoes shoulder surgery, out four months

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 04: Jon Merrill #7 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Detroit Red Wings at the Prudential Center on January 4, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Red Wings defeated the Devils 1-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New Jersey d-man Jon Merrill, who struggled through an injury-riddled campaign, has undergone successful shoulder surgery with an expected recovery time of four months, the club announced on Wednesday.

Merrill, 24, only appeared in 47 games this year, first missing time with an arm injury, then suffering a shoulder ailment late in the year.

There was no clear indication if the two ailments were related, but Merrill’s arm injury was on the right side, and surgery was on his right shoulder.

A former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, Merrill enjoyed solid rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.

Based on the four-month timetable for recovery, Merrill will likely miss parts of New Jersey’s training camp and preseason action.

Max Talbot mulling European options for next season

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After a 10-year career with over 700 games played and one Stanley Cup, Maxime Talbot could be done in the NHL.

Per RDS, Talbot — who’ll hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 — has “some options in Europe” for next season, and is contemplating a move overseas.

In his prime, Talbot was a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net. He scored double-digit goals four times, including a career-high 19 in ’11-12.

The 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.

Talbot did acquit himself very well with the P-Bruins — 21 points in 26 games — and has some experience playing abroad, having suited up for Finnish League club Ilves Tampere during the lockout.

Based on how things went last year in free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Talbot land in Europe.

The likes of Maxim Lapierre, Curtis Glencross and Marcel Goc all failed to score NHL contracts last summer — Lapierre and Goc proceeded to sign overseas, while Glencross opted to retire.

 

Ex-‘Hawks coach Suhonen takes Austrian national team job

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13:  Thomas Raffl #5 of Austria celebrates with his teammates after Thomas Hundertpfund #27 scored a goal in the first period against Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Alpo Suhonen, who became the first European-born NHL coach in over 50 years upon taking the Chicago gig in 2000, has been named the new bench boss of the Austrian men’s national team, per IIHF.com.

Suhonen, 67, takes over from former NHL defenseman Dan Ratushny, who was splitting duties between Team Austria and Lausanne of the Swiss League.

Suhonen takes over the national team at a critical juncture. Austria finished a disappointing fourth at the 2016 World Hockey Championship Division 1 tournament — meaning the country finished 20th overall. As the IIHF websites notes, that’s the worst finish for Austria in 86 years of WHC competition.

Looking forward, Austria does have a chance to make amends this summer, when it will play a series of contests to prep for Olympic qualification.

Suhonen inherits a roster with decent NHL pedigree as Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl and Michael Grabner are all eligible to participate.

That said, Vanek was named to Team Europe’s initial 16-man roster for the World Cup of Hockey, and it remains to be seen how that will impact his national team commitments.

Datsyuk’s agent acknowledges offer from KHL’s SKA, but no deal yet

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) celebrates his empty net goal against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit Monday, March 9, 2015. Detroit won 5-2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Gennady Timchenko, the billionaire chairman of KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg, reportedly believes there’s a “good chance” that Pavel Datsyuk will be playing for his team next season.

But according to Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, there’s only been an offer from SKA. Nothing has been signed yet. There could still be offers from other KHL teams for his client to consider.

And at any rate, Milstein insisted once again that Datysuk won’t be making any decisions until he speaks with the Detroit Red Wings in mid-June, after the 37-year-old returns from a family vacation.

Milstein passed along that update to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, plus a few other Wings reporters.

Related: Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options’