Yesterday, Mike Heika broke some fairly significant news on his blog, stating that Tom Gaglardi was now the leading bidder for the Dallas Stars and hinted that he could even be in the middle of an exclusive negotiating window to bid on the team.
I'd love to link you to the story, but the lovely people over at the Dallas Morning News decided that the masses should be paying for such a great breaking story. Instead, check out our post on the news here.
Of course, the most important part of his story was not only that Tom Gaglardi was now the leading bidder over Doug Miller but that Gaglardi's bidding could be the first step to get the sale of the Stars headed to bankruptcy court.
[He] could become the stalking horse in what could eventually become an organized bankruptcy case that would allow the exchange of the ownership from a group of lenders led by Monarch Investments. The bankruptcy case could be necessary to make a clean separation from the complicated group of lenders (some of whom will not be compensated) and new ownership. The bankruptcy court would allow other buyers to outbid Gaglardi, but they would have to do so by a stated amount, and Gaglardi would receive compensation if he does not get the team.
Not surprisingly, this made the hearts of Dallas Stars fans everywhere skip a beat as we all immediately thought of the absolute debacle that occurred in Dallas courts last August when the Texas Rangers went through bankruptcy and eventually an auction. It was an ugly, messy, drawn out affair that made the sale of the team take much longer than expected and turned the sale into a sideshow featuring cowboys, billionaires, hall of fame pitchers and an outspoken local sports figure. It was not fun, and Stars fans did not want this to happen to the Stars.
After the jump, we look at how this situation is different and examine why this news report, unlike all the other "reports" is much more substantive and important.
What makes this news report encouraging is that it came directly from Mike Heika, attributing the news to two separate sources, on the same day that Darren Dreger -- perhaps the most linked in of all NHL media -- reported that there was significant movement on the sale of the team as well.
This wasn't Heika responding to some off-the-wall report by some random internet reporter, this was Heika acting of his own accord with news that he himself had tracked down without having to try and dispute some half-wit internet rumor. The details involved in the report are just as significant and show how this isn't some flimsy news that Heika was idly passing along, but a substantial report that states that what we expected was happening with this sale has completely changed -- and that major progress had been made.
Nearly a month ago we learned that Doug Miller, owner of the Allen Americans, was possibly making a significant and serious bid on the Stars. Miller, to many Stars fans, is the ideal candidate to own the Stars as he is a true Texan with loads of money and who loves hockey. Heika, at the time, stated that Miller could be the first step in getting the bidding moving forward with other prospective owners and that while Miller might be serious in attempting to purchase the team, he isn't necessarily the front runner to put the ink on the actual purchase.
Just as Heika predicted, here comes much more detailed news about a new bid from Tom Gaglardi. Of all the bidders we've discussed over the past year, Gaglardi has been mentioned the most. He's been there from the very beginning, never completely backing out and not coming out nowhere (twice) like Miller with a surpise move to purchase the team.
Gaglardi, as I've mentioned before, isn't exactly my first choice as someone I'd love to purchase the Dallas Stars. He doesn't have the best track record in the NHL, being involved in a lawsuit with the Vancouver Canucks (that he lost) and making a failed attempt to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers and move them to Canada. He also has had troubles as an owner of the Kamloops Blazers, failing to turn the team around since he purchased them in 2007 and -- as an owner -- was involved in a minor controversy regarding a beat writer for the team.
Still, he has a ton of money, he's been trying to purchase an NHL team for a long time now and he has Texas ties. While I'd certainly prefer Bill Gallacher or Doug Miller, I'd take Scrooge McDuck over our current situation.
This doesn't mean that Gallacher or Miller won't end up with the team, however. As mentioned before, Heika suggests that Gaglardi could be part of a plan to move the sale to bankruptcy court, therefore opening up the sale to auction and making the nightmares of Stars fans everywhere become reality.
Going to bankruptcy court, in a controlled and planned way, is far from a bad thing.
The Texas Rangers went to bankrupcty court because of a very significant disagreement between Hicks Sports Group and the lenders over who was chosen to ultimately bid on the team. The lenders felt that the highest bid was not chosen and they deserved the right to fight for the most money they'd try and receive in a sale. They also knew that opening up the sale to an auction -- exactly what Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg didn't want -- would likely get them even more money.
In the end, everything worked out. But it was a messy, drawn out affair and I don't think this fanbase could survive that happening to the Stars.
Instead, this is good news. Heading to bankruptcy, when all parties are in agreement of the plan and agree on the course of action, could actually make for a much cleaner and easier sale when you consider all the lenders that are involved at the moment. Especially when some of those lenders might not get compensation.
A controlled, mitigated sale of the team could be exactly what we need. It creates an environment where all the lenders are legally bound by the sale and even opens up the team for bidding, when Miller or Gallacher might get involved. Gaglardi would be amiable to the auction since he'd be compensated anyway, and the sale of the franchise would happen with every legal string neatly tied off and everyone moves on.
I know people get scared of bankruptcy, especially considering the Phoenix Coyotes debacle, but this is much different. No public fighting over an arena, the NHL will never consider moving the team, there is not crazed fighting among the lenders, HSG and the bidders for the team and everyone involved wants to get this team sold as fast as possible.
Considering the lenders lost $15 million this season, I'd be willing to bet they're more than happy to get this process moving right along.
Did Joe Nieuwendyk know this was going down? How he's carried himself these past few months, and the decisions he's made, tell us that he at least has some clue that the sale of the Stars might be moving forward. We've been getting rumblings at DBD headquarters that the sale would be completed sooner than later, although no one knew who would be involved.
These latest reports confirm that despite the Dallas Stars being more airtight than a US submarine, the sale is progressing and there are some people willing to at least talk about it.
And then, hopefully, we never have to mention You-Know-Who ever again.