TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting this afternoon that the Dallas Stars, because of the ownership uncertainty created by one Mr. Thomas Hicks and the wide reaching (long lasting) consequences, will be unable to make an offer to Brad Richards, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
McKenzie unleashed a series of Stars related tweets today, confirming the old news that they're intervieiwng Muller, Gulutzan and Horacheck, among others, and says they're very high on Gulutzan right now.
The tweet of interest:
With the ownership situation in DAL not likely to be settled until later in summer, DAL will not be making contract offer to Brad Richards. [Twitter]
DAL would be interested in trading exclusive neg rights before July 1, but move would require Richards to waive his NMC. No guarantees. [Twitter]
This should come as no surprise to the astute Stars fan, as this weeks news of the extended negotiations between the lenders and Tom Gaglardi, combined with impending bankruptcy court and the possibility of competing bids puts the timeline of definitive ownership transfer well into July and perhaps August or beyond should a bidding war ensue.
The Stars have not yet made an official statement to this end and it seems as though the Morning News and ESPN Dallas have nothing to definitively report on this claim at this time, so those who are wont to cling to hope may do so for a little while longer.
As for the possibility of trading his negotiating rights before July 1st, that's a tricky proposition because of his no trade clause. He would need to approve any move made and would presumably only do so for a team with whom he intended to sign. On the other side of things the question is why a team would trade for his rights when it seems he'll want to hear what all interested parties have to say and offer on July 1st anyway?
We'll have much more commentary on this and, if warranted, a look back at Richards' time in Dallas and the decision to keep him in the midst of a playoff race as Joe Nieuwendyk did. For now we'll simply thank GM Joe for seeing the season through to the end, believing in his guys, and at least keeping the door open to the possibility of re-signing him in the face of uncertainty.
UPDATE: ESPN Dallas adds this...
Just talked to GM Joe on the @TSNBobMcKenzie report. No point in making offer to Brad Richards because of the ownership issue [Twitter]
Which makes you wonder how much "point" there is to making any offers to anyone until this is done...