Tag: ownership problems

Francesco Aquilini

Owner’s divorce could cause Dodgers-like headaches for Canucks


The Los Angeles Dodgers franchise dealt with a massive, ugly headache thanks to ex-owner Frank McCourt’s massive, ugly divorce. It’s hard to imagine any NHL team facing that much owner drama, but one of the Vancouver Canucks’ owners could face something close to it with his pending split.

Cloudiness regarding the Canucks

There’s talk that Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini’s squabble with long-time wife Taliah might affect his stake with the team. The Vancouver Province passes along his denial of those rumors, however, as Aquilini even used the Gary Bettman-approved phrase “business as usual” when discussing the impact (or lack thereof) on the Canucks.

Aquilini’s company owns both the Canucks and Rogers Arena, but as The Globe & Mail’s David Ebner reports, Francesco’s exact stake isn’t clear. That marks at least one obvious difference between the Canucks’ case and the Dodgers’ debacle off the bat, as TEAM 1040 points out that Frank McCourt held the “title directly.”

Early conclusions

Confused yet? That’s OK, as it seems this story is in the early (aka “smoke screen”) stages.

It’s unclear if Francesco Aquilini is correct in saying that the Canucks aren’t in play in the divorce, but either way, this could be a distraction for the team – or at least fans and the media.

Then again, with all the chaos the franchise has endured – from riots to Roberto Luongo – this ordeal might just seem like a new flavor of weird.

The NHL is helping the Devils out financially

2012 NHL All-Star Game - NHL Fan Fair

While the Devils are succeeding on the ice, off of it things aren’t going quite as smoothly.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed during his All-Star Game press conference that the Devils’ split ownership between Jeff Vanderbeek and Ray Chambers is having some problems. Vanderbeek is happy owning the Devils while Chambers is looking for a way out.

“It’s no secret the current owners haven’t seen eye-to-eye,” Bettman said. When asked about the financial stability of the team that’s had rumors of the NHL giving them cash to keep things rolling along this year, Bettman added: “Fair to say the club is stable, but ownership isn’t getting along.”

While Bettman avoided answering about league assistance, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to The Canadian Press’ Chris Johnston that the league has advanced the Devils money to help meet ends while their ownership continues to squabble.

With the Devils having financial questions, the future of impending free agent and team captain Zach Parise is in doubt. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello would love to keep Parise in New Jersey, but with a potentially monster contract to be negotiated on this summer and things being unsettled financially, the Devils could wind up being forced to move him.

Dallas Stars’ lenders might appoint temporary president while team sale hangs in limbo

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Forgive my oversimplification/generalization, but you can break down the Dallas Stars team sale situation by two basic schools of thought.

On one side, you have the crowd who are mostly negative about the situation. They point to the difficult situations faced by the now-sold Tampa Bay Lightning and the suspended-in-muck Phoenix Coyotes and wonder if the lenders who bailed Tom Hicks out will ever find a satisfying price.

On the other side, there is a local example that might hearten some Stars devotees. The team must only look to Arlington, at their former Hicks-ownership-related cousins, the Texas Rangers. That team was once mired in a situation that seemed far more grim; they hadn’t made the playoffs since the days of Juan Gonzalez and things weren’t looking up this summer. What happened since then? The Rangers took Major League Baseball my storm, encouraged a bidding war between groups headed by Mark Cuban and Nolan Ryan and made it to the World Series after beating the Yankees, for goodness sakes.

Whichever viewpoint you hold, this news could be big in the short term: the group of lenders may need to appoint an interim president to help run the team … and hopefully increase interest in the not-too-shabby Stars. Here’s more from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

The group of lenders who are serving as the owners of the Stars are seriously considering naming an interim president to help guide the team, according to a source close to the sale of the team, and a decision could be made by the end of the week.

The move could be seen as a sign that the lenders are content to run the team for the remainder of the 2010-11 season, but the source said it’s more a matter of doing what’s best for the Stars in the event a sale does not happen.


Several people close to the sale say that open dialogue continues every day but that neither side is close to finding a price that makes everyone happy.

That means the lenders could continue to run the team for the remainder of the season in hopes that either a strong run in the playoffs or a change in the economic environment could entice buyers to raise their bids. The Stars have been running on the monies collected in the summer through ticket sales, advertising and television revenue, but those monies could run out in December. The Stars have talked to the NHL about getting an advance on future money that is normally collected by teams after the season, but the lenders could have to be prepared to start covering potential losses as soon as December.

The best bit of information – for Stars fans and fans of competitive hockey in general – is that it doesn’t sound like the team will run a talent liquidation (if they remain competitive, at least). The article seems to stress that the lenders are hopeful that adding a president will help them maintain or possibly improve the on-ice product as that will spur profits and increase the perceived value of the franchise.

In other words, the Stars might not have to pull what would be the equivalent of the anti-Cliff Lee trade by shipping Brad Richards and his large (but now justified), expiring contract to another team.

At least, they won’t do that if they really want to win. Stay tuned, though, because the surprising Stars might just be (an admittedly economically healthier) 2010-11 version of the 2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes. We’ll keep you posted.