Tag: ownership

Screening of Lionsgate's "Saw 3D" - Arrivals

Oren Koules contemplates future NHL ownership while son participates in Research and Development Camp

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Around Hollywood, people know Oren Koules as the guy behind the Saw movie franchise and a producer for Two and a Half Men. Around hockey circles however, people know him as the guy who joined forces with co-owner Len Barrie to make the Tampa Bay Lightning the laughing stock of the league over the last few years. Ownership disagreements, financial problems, and a sale to Jeffrey Vinik later and Koules is out of the game of hockey.

Well, out of hockey as an owner.

The former Lightning owner has accompanied his son Miles Koules to this year’s Research and Development Camp in Ontario to show support. At 5’10,” the younger Koules managed 3 goals and 4 assists in 26 games for the U.S. National Development Team. Even though Miles is from Los Angeles, he went to the legendary Shattuck St. Mary’s to hone his craft before making the trek to Ann Arbor and Team USA. He’s committed to play next season with the University of North Dakota and the Fighting Sioux. He was good enough to earn a spot on International Scouting Services’ Top 50 players eligible for the 2012 Entry Draft.

Being around an NHL team at such an early age helped Miles as he looked towards taking the next step in his hockey career. By all accounts, he’s right on track to maximize his talent and possibly earn a spot in the NHL one day. From scout Dan Sallows:

“The experience was awesome to be able to see how professionals go about their business at such a young age. It mainly helped my game to be able to learn things on and off the ice on the ways to make it because they have already done so.”

It wasn’t Miles play on the ice that grabbed headlines this afternoon. While talking to a few reporters, Oren admitted that he had spoken to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding a possible return to ownership. He went on to talk to Greg Wyshynski at Yahoo! Sports about his time with the Lightning and even hinted why his next ownership venture would be more successful than his last:

“I had two problems. I had a partner that went bananas and the second problem is that the economy kicked us in the balls,” he said. “We went from 38 million in tickets to 17 million.”

As for his time with Barrie: “I signed documents to say I wouldn’t talk about it.”

Clearly the economy played a huge role in the downturn in ticket sales. At the same time, it probably didn’t help that the Lightning were the worst team in the Eastern Conference over a three year stretch from 2007-2010. When people have less money to spend, they’re less likely to spend their hard earned cash to head out to the rink—especially when the team is awful. Between an Eastern Conference Finals appearance and a renovated building in Tampa, new owner Jeffrey Vinik won’t have the same attendance problems next season that plagued the previous regime.

A quick look around the league shows that Bettman would be open to an infusion of new money. The Dallas Stars look like they should be in the final stages of their sale, but both the St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes could use a legitimate ownership group to step up to the plate and kick down some serious money. Len Barrie and Koules originally bought the Lightning for a reported $200 million; only to sell the team to Vinik for $170 million.

Depending on the deal he can work out with the Glendale City Council, he could probably get a team in Arizona for a relative bargain.

Adrian Aucoin: “I’d love to know that there’s going to be hockey in the desert”

Coyotes Sale Hockey
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Ever since May of 2009, there has been a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the Phoenix Coyotes. Since the day Jerry Moyes put the team into bankruptcy and tried to sell the team to Jim Balsillie, the Coyotes have had two of the most impressive seasons in franchise history (yes, we’re still including the Winnipeg Jets seasons). In 2009-10, they surprised the entire NHL by finishing 4th in the Western Conference with 107 points. They followed up their Cinderella season with a 99 point effort (good for 6th in the West) and another trip to the playoffs. For a team that hadn’t made the playoffs since 2002, back-to-back appearances have shown that the team was on the right track.

Unfortunately, fans and those within the organization haven’t been able to enjoy this period of success due to the insecure state of the franchise as a whole. Will they stay? Will they go? Will this owner be the one? These are the questions that have dominated Coyotes headlines across the national landscape much more than “Is Shane Doan the most underrated captain?” or “How good is Dave Tippett?” Until an owner has signed on the dotted line and the Goldwater Institute has given its tacit blessing to any sale, the ownership questions are going to continue to steal the headlines from the actual play on the ice.

Defenseman Adrian Aucoin admitted that doubts off the ice can be concerning—but once the players are on the ice, all of the peripheral issues concerning the sale fade away:

“The luxury we have is as soon as you step on the ice, none of that stuff really matters because we’re there for one reason. It doesn’t matter who owns the team we’re going to be playing as hard as we can.”


“As far as family and everything goes, it would be really nice to get it settled just so knowing that where everything’s situated and especially in my case with young kids. And if I’m hoping to retire in Phoenix I’d love to know that there’s going to be hockey in the desert. That’s a huge factor.”

He’s not the only one who would love to know if there’s going to be hockey in the desert. There hasn’t been any new news surrounding the ownership situation, nor any news of potential owners throwing their hat into the ring. Since Matthew Hulsizer publically pulled his bid at the end of June, there haven’t been many investment groups jumping to fill the void. Jerry Reinsdorf’s name has been pulled off of mothballs, but any interest from that side is minimal at best at this point. All the while, Hulsizer has shown interest in purchasing (at least a portion) of the St. Louis Blues.

Wouldn’t it be a kick in the gut if the guy who tried to buy the team for seven months ended up purchasing another team only few months later?

The good news for the Coyotes and their fans is they are guaranteed at least one more season of hockey. Despite operating on a shoestring budget, only the Canucks, Sharks, and Blackhawks have had a better record in the Western Conference than the Coyotes over the last two seasons. This season they’ll have Norris Trophy candidate Keith Yandle returning for the first year of his new 5-year contract. They’ll get to watch youngsters Martin Hanzal and Oliver Ekman-Larsson this season; and once they get restricted free agents Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker under contract, fans will get to watch the two young forwards blossom at the NHL level as well.  An increase in season ticket sales shows that the fans are ready to believe.

Just like any other team in the league, the Coyotes will have a few questions to answer throughout the course of the season if they want to make the playoffs. They’ll have to find a legitimate answer between the pipes to replace Ilya Bryzgalov. They’ll need to replace forwards like Eric Belanger and Vern Fiddler who gave the Coyotes strong depth. They’ll need to find someone to replace Ed Jovanovski’s 20 minutes per game. If they can quickly find answers for all three of these questions, they’ll be well on their way towards yet another playoff berth. After surprising people for two years in a row, it wouldn’t be fair to call it “surprising” anymore.

Whether they are able to succeed or not, we know they’ll be looking for the answers while they’re in Phoenix. Hopefully one day we can just look at the team during the offseason and not have to worry about an ownership dilemma. After all, questions about the team’s play on the ice would be a welcomed change from questions about the team’s ownership in a city council meeting.

Tom Gaglardi submits bid to NHL to purchase Dallas Stars


Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi has been the front-runner to purchase the Dallas Stars for quite some time. Friday, Gaglardi took the next step in his quest to buy the Stars from a group of lenders led by Monarch Investments by submitting his proposal to the NHL for approval. By no means does this mean the sale is a done deal—but it’s a necessary step in the process for Gaglardi to finally acquire the team. If no news is good news, then this is great news.

Unfortunately, the sale isn’t as simple as a seller and buyer agreeing to terms and exchanging cash. If it were that easy, the deal would have been done in April when he first acquired the exclusive negotiating rights for the Stars. As Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News explains, there are plenty of people who are owed money and want a piece of the pie:

“With more than 40 lenders who have legal rights to the Stars, one of the key contentions of the sale will be who gets paid what, as well as who gets paid first. The sale price is not expected to cover the debt, so some lenders will not get paid back.”

“’In a traditional sale, you have a seller who is trying to negotiate with a buyer, and you have traditional sale practices. But this isn’t a traditional sale,’ said one source. ‘You have a group of sellers who have different opinions, and that really means you don’t have a seller, per se. Into that vacuum has stepped a lot of lawyers, and that has made the process very complicated.’”

First, let’s reiterate that this is good news for people who want to see a deal get done. Once the Stars’ sale is behind the organization, they’ll be able to look to the future, set a realistic payroll budget, and once again focus on winning games on the ice. Over the last season, assembling the best team possible has taken a backseat to the ownership issues that have dictated the team’s direction (most notably with Brad Richards). This is a small step forward in the right direction.

At the same time, the situation is looking at a bunch of attorneys and debtors looking to get as much money as possible and a proposal that does not plan on paying all of previous debts. If the NHL approves the proposal, the next step is for the 40 lenders (and their lawyers) to fight in bankruptcy court to receive the best return on their previous investment possible. If the Phoenix Coyotes situation taught us anything, any time “NHL” and “bankruptcy court” are mentioned in the same sentence, it’s best to proceed with caution. Obviously, this is a very different situation—but there are still plenty of moving parts and interested parties for the NHL to appease.

Another point to consider within the context of the bankruptcy hearings is that all other potential ownership groups will be able to submit bids over the course of the proceedings. No matter what figure Gaglardi’s proposal includes, whenever there are names like Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban involved (among others), there are bound to be a few fireworks if they’re still interested in the NHL franchise.

Just what the NHL needs: more court cases and legal actions surrounding one of their teams. For the sake of every Stars fan alive, hopefully today’s announcement is the beginning of the end of this drawn-out sale.