With free agency and the draft behind us and the Dallas Stars' roster looking complete in it's reshaped form, the only thing left to do for the next 60 days or so is the spectator sport of watching this long and winding sale process. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News provided another update of sorts this morning and it's largely just more of the same, but there are some things that can be taken away.
The "headline" is that Tom Gaglardi is no longer officially in a period of exclusive negotiation with the lenders, but to a Stars fan that does not really mean anything at this point. To extend the poker metaphor Mike used in his blog posting, the "action" is still on Gaglardi right now and will be until he makes his move. He's trying to buy this pot, and he's trying to figure out how much he needs to risk to get everyone else at the table to go away. Meanwhile the other parties wait to see if it's worth it to raise him.
To me the key difference in what's happening now and what we thought was happening in late April is that these other interested parties simply will not go away. I don't know why we ever thought they had. In fact there are even more players in this game than there were back then.
In late April the collective impression we were getting from the combined reporting of the DMN, Forbes, Sports Business Journal, THN, etc... was that Tom Gaglardi had put forth terms that were so much better than anything else being discussed that he was granted the exclusivity period and was firmly in the drivers seat. We thought, foolishly it seems, that there were fewer and fewer engaged, interested parties and that Gaglardi's terms had essentially won the day already, with only formalities and routine legal hurdles separating him and ownership.
Fast forward over two months and lenders appear to be hoping for Gaglardi's (still forthcoming) bid to just be yet another stalking horse that raises the price further and initiates (or continues) a lucrative auction for the team.
...the bidder wants to put forth a price that will win him the team and that will hopefully not send the bidding process into an auction. But, he also doesn't want a bid so high that it's a bad deal. The lenders, meanwhile, want to agree to a price that would not be disappointing if it's the sale price of the team. While the lenders are hoping for an auction, if they sign a purchase agreement, there is the chance nobody bids over that original price.
What is unknown at this point is how long any other bids coming over the top of Gaglardi's bid would take. Would (Miller or Charlton or Quinn or Greenberg) be granted a 30-60 day period of their own, lather, scrub, rinse, repeat all the rest of this junk... Or would the process go faster that time around using the original signed purchase agreement as a blueprint?
As with several weeks in late May and early June, it's being said that there could be "news" on Gaglardi's bid this week. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us four or five times in a row now, shame on us...?
The important thing to remember this late in the off-season is that there is no longer any rush. There are as many as five groups out there who want to invest money in this hockey team and this horrible process should at least produce a determined, patient owner with deep pockets. Whatever his name is.