Tom Stillman

It’s official — the St. Louis Blues have a new owner


To follow up on yesterday’s report that the NHL Board of Governors had approved the sale of the St. Louis Blues to a group headed by Tom Stillman, the NHL Board of Governors has approved the sale of the St. Louis Blues to a group headed by Tom Stillman.

The purchase from outgoing owner Dave Checkett also includes the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen, the lease to Scottrade Center and a percentage of the Peabody Opera House (where you can get “Back in the High Life Again” with Steve Winwood on May 15.)

Stillman’s been a minority owner since 2007.

Here’s part of his bio from the Blues’ website:

Mr. Stillman is chairman and CEO of Summit Distributing, a St. Louis-based beer distributor. He got into the beer business in 1994 with the acquisition of a local wholesaler. Summit is now the second largest beer distributor in Missouri.

Mr. Stillman is a former lawyer and from 1988 to 1992, he was with the U.S. Department of Commerce, in Washington, D.C., where he was Chief Counsel for Export Administration, responsible for legal aspects of national security-based controls on sensitive exports.

Sounds like he works a lot.

A press conference to formally announce the sale could occur tomorrow.

According to the St. Louis Business Journal, Stillman’s group of investors includes “familiar St. Louis names such as former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, Luxco CEO Donn Lux, Maritz Inc. CEO Steve Maritz and St. Louis sports surgeon and investor Dr. Richard Lehman. Also in the group is the Taylor family, who control car rental company Enterprise Holdings. Enterprise is the largest privately held company in St. Louis and reported $14.1 billion in revenue in its fiscal 2011.”

Fabbri primed to make Blues in significant role

Jason Demers, Robby Fabbri
AP Photo
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With the start of the regular season just around the corner, it looks like Robby Fabbri will not only make his NHL debut on Thursday, but also get meaningful minutes.

During Sunday’s practice the 19-year-old forward played alongside Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz. Nothing is set in stone, but that combination did gel.

“I think we want to look at what the combinations look like now rather than do it at the start of the season,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re looking at a hard match line and we’re also looking at taking advantage of speed and skill off the rush.

“I really liked what I saw today. I really liked Lehtera’s line, they looked very dynamic off the rush.”

The top line of Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Tarasenko seems like a good bet to play together for the time being. Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz will stick together on the second line while Dmitrij Jaskin and David Backes can expect to be regular partners on the third unit. The X-factors will be Fabbri and Troy Brouwer as Hitchcock has left the door open to alternating between the two of them on the second and third line depending on the opponent.

Fabbri was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is looking to make the leap after a brief stint in the AHL last season. At the OHL level, he’s been a dominate force with the Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games in 2014-15.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.