Tag: ownership changes

Mario Lemieux

Report: Penguins owners (especially Lemieux) ponder sale of ‘some or all’ of franchise


File this under unexpected: Pittsburgh Penguins owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux hired Morgan Stanley as they consider “the possibility of selling some or all of the franchise,” according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari confirms that ownership sought out Morgan Stanley to get the ball rolling on this potential situation. Gary Bettman didn’t address the situation as it broke during tonight’s press conference, according to Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski.


Naturally, McKenzie provided the expected caveats. Just because the two are exploring their options doesn’t mean that they’re absolutely set on this.

Interestingly, Lemieux is singled out as possibly being most anxious in getting out, noting that the two may still retain some involvement with the team even if they give up equity shares.


Again, at first, this is a startling situation. Thinking deeper, there have been rumblings about dysfunction in the organization, with some pointing blame all the way to the top.

Perhaps Lemieux and Burkle are losing their taste for the criticism and/or management aspects of running the team? Maybe they’re merely trying to make a ton of money (Lemieux certainly earned his keep in saving the franchise more than once).

Tough to blame “The Magnificent One” if the Penguins approach this sort of price tag, after all:

Interestingly, Mike Colligan wondered about the two Penguins owners’ future with the franchise all the way back in early April in this article for The Hockey Writers.

This could be a blip or just as easily be a huge moment for the franchise. Either way, it’s an interesting situation to watch.

More: Penguins release a statement that doesn’t exactly refute these rumors.

Rogers, Bell close to purchasing controlling interest in Maple Leafs


It was only two weeks ago when the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan said they weren’t going to sell their controlling interest in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE). It’s amazing what (as much as) $2 billion can do to change people’s minds.

Telecommunication rivals Bell Media and Rogers Communications are pooling their assets to purchase the 79.5% of MLSE shares that are owned by the Pension Plan. The $2 billion would include the Toronto Maple Leafs, Leafs TV, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, the Air Canada Centre, and various real estate holdings.

Two billion dollars doesn’t goes as far as it used to.

QMI Agency is reporting that the deal could be completed as early as Friday; but more likely, the deal will be completed sometime before Christmas.

It’s noteworthy that Bell and Rogers are buying the Maple Leafs in the midst of their best start in awhile. The team hasn’t made the playoffs in six seasons, but they’re currently only two points behind the Boston Bruins for first place in the Northeast Division. The team is as desirable as they’ve been in years. What will they be able to do when they have ownership that is desperate for ratings?

Either way, let’s be real: the Maple Leafs could win five games per season and still make money. Now if we could get Bell or Rogers to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, all the ownership problems in the NHL would be cured.

Carolina Hurricanes now owned by roughly half of North Carolina

Paul Maurice

Earlier today, Carolina Hurricanes owner and CEO Peter Karmanos Jr. announced a group of 10 new partners in the ownership of the team. Of the 10, a whopping nine of them are based locally in North Carolina.

“These new partners are devoted to the continued success of the Hurricanes in North Carolina,” Karmanos said in a statement posted to the Hurricanes website. “Their investments in our team further solidify our franchise’s standing in the National Hockey League and the North Carolina sports community.”

Eight of the ten partners are: Michael Kahn, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. (James Goodmon, A.J. Fletcher Foundation), Matthew Szulik, Ice Puck LLC (Orris Temple Sloan, Jr.), Clancy & Theys Construction (David Tim Clancy, Joel Thomas Irving Clancy, Kathryn Virginia Clancy, Robert Todd Clancy, Sarah Elizabeth Sturm), Jim Rutherford, Hurricanes Investment, LLC (Abel Zalcberg, Barbara Zalcberg) and Whitney Holdings Inc. (Frederick J. Whitney, Timothy M. Whitney).

The remaining two investment partners have chosen to keep their partnerships private.

One of the names that jumps off the page is that of Jim Rutherford, current general manager of the ‘Canes. The move makes sense given Rutherford’s worked for the club for 18 years and is the longest-tenured GM in franchise history…but there just aren’t that many NHL GMs that have a stake in ownership. Should be interesting if ownership ever holds an anonymous vote on whether to keep Rutherford as GM or not. “Six votes yay, three votes nay and one vote that simply reads ‘Jim is Awesome.'”

As for my favorite part of the release — the Clancy & Theys Construction bio:

“Clancy & Theys Construction was founded in Raleigh in 1949 by brothers-in-law E.I. Clancy and John Theys. Today the company is owned by the late E.I. Clancy’s family, and is managed by his sons. Tim Clancy is president, and his brother Tick is executive vice president.”

*screeches tires*

Wait, his name is Tick Clancy? Really? I feel like further explanation is required as to how one becomes Tick Clancy. Is that a nickname? An alias? How has there not been a follow-up release explaining the origins of Tick Clancy’s name? This is a PR fail.

Nieuwendyk says ownership issues aren’t affecting the Stars

2011 NHL Entry Draft - Round One

The Stars will have plenty of adversity to face this season. They’ll look to replace their leading scorer and top-line center. They’ll look to rebound from a season that saw them waste a playoff opportunity on the final day of the season. And they’ll look to do it all while breaking in a brand new coach. All the sudden, the naysayers and doomsday predictors look like they may have a point. It looks like it could be an uphill battle for the boys from Big D.

But one thing that won’t hamper the Stars is their precarious ownership situation. It’s no secret that Tom Gaglardi has every intention of purchasing the Stars as soon as he can get approval from the courts and the debtors that are owned money in the bankruptcy case. All parties involve assume the sale will be settled sometime during the first half of the NHL season—in ownership time, that’s not bad at all. Just ask the Phoenix Coyotes. But until then, there was some concern that GM Joe Nieuwendyk and the Dallas Stars front-office would not be unable to make the moves they wanted to because of the delicate ownership situation. The fear was that the team wouldn’t acquire any additional payroll before the sale was completed and a new owner was in place.

Joe Nieuwendyk is here to ease all fears. GM Nieuwendyk told Fan 960 in Calgary that the drawn-out sale process hasn’t affected the Stars and what they’ve wanted to do this offseason (via ESPN Dallas):

“…Obviously we’re going through this sale process and it is taking probably longer than any of us had anticipated. It is moving. I know that speaking with the league this thing will get resolved this season, prior to Christmas. It’s just been a long process. The good thing is it hasn’t taken away from anything what our team has been able to do. We increased our budget and went after players that could fill roles on our team and help us. We added seven players this summer and I feel really good about our team. We’ve been able to keep our off-ice issues away from the locker room and I think the guys are excited about the upcoming season.”

There’s a difference between a team having their hands tied and being fiscally responsible. No team with an internal budget was going to be able to afford Brad Richards and his contract demands. Not only was it an exorbitant price tag for one player, but it also would have limited the resources for management to piece together a competitive 23-man roster. The Stars weren’t the only team that was out of the Brad Richards sweepstakes before July 1.

Just because the Stars failed to re-sign Richards doesn’t mean that they sat on the sidelines and watched as other teams snatched up free agents. All in all, the Stars acquired six new players to improve the team’s overall depth. None of the newcomers are going to make fans forget about Brad Richards, but they should help the Stars roll four lines for the first time in years. Michael Ryder, Vernon Fiddler, Sheldon Souray, Radek Dvorak, Adam Pardy, and Jake Dowell all were acquired by the Stars to help transform the Stars into the two-way team that new head coach Glen Gulutzen envisions next season.

The bad news is that even though the Stars increased their payroll this season, they still have the 25th ranked payroll in the NHL (they’ll most likely be 26th after Winnipeg re-signs Zach Bogosian). While there are contenders pressed firmly up against the salary cap, the Stars have a full roster and they’re still $14.4 million under the limit. Each team in the competitive Pacific Division has a more expensive payroll—even the budget conscious Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes. Again, it will be an uphill battle this season.

GM Joe Nieuwendyk may say that he’s been free to conduct business as usual—but fans in Dallas have to hope the budget will increase once the new owner is in place.

Report: Atlanta Spirit,True North negotiating deal; Thrashers could relocate to Winnipeg


The rumors have been flying for quite some time now, but it seems like there’s fire to back up all that smoke. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore reports that the Atlanta Spirit and True North are indeed negotiating a deal that could relocate the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg.

Vivlamore points out that a deal hasn’t been completed and it is unclear how long the two sides have been negotiating, but it’s possible that the Thrashers could be relocated in time for the 2011-12 season.

The factors described in the report itself aren’t exactly “new.” After all, Joe already took a look at what the NHL’s divisional realignment might look like if the Thrashers moved to the ‘Peg. That being said, this not-quite-confirmed story that appeared in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution gives more concrete credibility to the rumors.

“I have never confirmed nor denied specific parties we have been talking to in regards to a possible sale of the Thrashers,” Atlanta Spirit co-owner Bruce Levenson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday.

Typically, confidentiality agreements are signed between parties in negotiations which would prohibit Atlanta Spirit ownership from identifying suitors.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, reach via e-mail, said there was “nothing I’m prepared to say at this point.” A True North Sports and Entertainment spokesperson had no comment.

Jeff Schultz expanded on the subject in a column for the AJC, pointing out that the outlook is grim but the move isn’t set in stone, either. Schultz mapped out three scenarios that could keep the Thrashers in Atlanta.

♦ 1.) A financial angel falls out of the sky. But thus far, no prospective owner has come forward with both a stated desire to buy the team and proof of his financial worth.

♦ 2.) Something falls apart on the Winnipeg end (with True North), or from the league’s perspective (other owners may be uncomfortable with the fact new local ownership for the Coyotes still isn’t assured).

♦ 3.) Bettman effectively stalls and gives the Atlanta franchise a one-year stay of execution, telling Levenson and the Spirit that the franchise can’t be moved for next season. It’s not believed the Atlanta Spirit could just walk away from the hockey team and throw the keys to the league. So it’s not certain what would happen if Bettman disallowed a move right now and the Spirit resisted.

While this situation doesn’t technically need to be resolved at a specific point, the league needs to put together a schedule for the 2011-12 season soon. Considering how antsy the Spirit is to get rid of the team (to be fair, they’ve reported losses in the $130 million range), they want to sell the Thrashers as soon as possible.

In other words, this story could develop really quickly.

Again, no deal is official yet. That being said, Thrashers fans must accept the possibility that their team really might move to Winnipeg this summer.