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Dallas Stars Approach NHL For Revenue Advance; Team Has Not Received Loan

"There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool can't get fooled again." -President George W. Bush.

We fell for it once, Mr. Campbell. We even fell for it (almost) a second time. There won't be a third time.

On Wednesday, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News posted an article that stated the Dallas Stars had received "about $8 million in revenue sharing and television money" from the NHL in order to pay the bills. He also went on to say that, like the Phoenix Coyotes, the Stars were being forced to have any budgetary decisions approved by the NHL.

In fact, the entire article was aimed at how the Stars situation was beginning to resemble that of the Coyotes', based on this news that the Stars had already received money from the NHL. While the Stars financial situation and the sale the franchise is certainly troubling, we have yet to come close to the mess that was (and is) the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes. The "report" that the Stars are essentially being run by the NHL was especially confusing, as it's the first time it's even been mentioned by anyone in the media.

In light of the fact that Campbell had already been wrong once before in regard to news of the Stars sale, we took this latest report with a big grain of salt. Turns out, we were right to be skeptical...

According to Mike Heika of the DMN, the only one we truly ever trust in regards to Dallas Stars news, the team has not received a single dime from the NHL. Yet.

Per Heika:

The lenders are prepared to extend the team a line of credit when the monies collected over the summer run out, which is expected to occur in December or January. To help avoid falling into further debt to the lenders, the Stars have asked the NHL for an advance on revenue they would receive after the season. That money would come in a line of credit.

Comparing this to the Phoenix Coyotes situation is absurd. The NHL was forced to purchase the Coyotes to pull the team out of bankruptcy, while the City of Glendale, Arizona fought with potential owners over the lease of the team's arena. It didn't help matters that one buyer openly planned on purchasing and relocating the team, which created even more of a fight between the NHL, Glendale, and any buyers of the team.

The NHL was essentially running the Coyotes because for an entire season -- the NHL owned the Phoenix Coyotes.

As for the Dallas Stars, this is what we were expecting to happen at some point and it should come as no surprise. The lenders, who are acting as the "unofficial owners" in Tom Hicks' place (confirmed by Heika's sources), are apparently ready to extend money to the team after funds run out this December. Yet you better believe that before the lenders give any more money to the Stars they do all that they can to get money from the NHL first.

According the Heika, the Stars are "only in the first stages of studying how it can receive the money." This is much, much different than Campbell's report, which states that the Stars have already received money and are essentially being run by the NHL. This accusatory statement builds upon his stance that the Stars are in Coyotes territory, after Phoenix spent the past year being owned by the league.

As for whether financial transactions have to be approved by the NHL, here is Heika once more to debunk a false report:

Sources said that while the NHL is aware of all transactions, the Stars do not have to seek approval. The payroll budget is about $45 million. While the league helped set that, sources say the NHL is not babysitting the team.

Heika points out that the Stars have made several major financial decisions lately and that the NHL did not have to approve any of them.

Even though Campbell's report is almost entirely false, the general basis for the story is still true and is still troubling for any Dallas Stars fan. No matter how it's spun, the Stars are in the process of approaching the NHL to receive a loan in order to meet payroll requirements. The fact that the Stars are operating with a very low team payroll ($45 million) and still can't make ends meet over the course of a season is very frustrating, especially when the Stars have historically been one of the top revenue-generating teams in the NHL.

The effects of this shortage of money can be seen everywhere -- not just on the team's player payroll. The Stars' marketing campaign has been much more reserved than in year's past and while the Ott-toberfest promotion is sure success, we are seeing a significant decrease in overall marketing efforts across the Metroplex. The Stars have also had just two home games, and while one was full the other was the lowest attended game ever at the AAC.

Combined with two years of mediocrity and the departure of a long-time franchise and fan favorite, you have the perfect storm for lowest revenue totals in franchise history at a time when the Stars have zero money coming from their owner. This is exactly the sort of investment a future buyer wants to pay top dollar for, right?

It also doesn't appear that the Stars are going to be sold anytime in the near future. The lenders are fighting to recoup as much of their money as possible and apparently are ready to wait it out until a buyer is willing to pay the amount the lenders feel is fair. Unfortunately, what the lenders feel is a fair price and what the buyers feel is fair are two very different amounts and the lenders are prepared to hold out until the gap is narrowed -- in their favor.

Perhaps Campbell received some wrong information from his "source", which heard about the revenue inquiry and then jumped to conclusions. It also appears that some in the hockey world relish the fact that a southern hockey team might be struggling to make money. With the Stars, however, it's just a different situation than Phoenix or Tampa Bay; the Stars have always made money and have always been successful -- it's when Hicks' financial investments elsewhere didn't work out that Stars began to struggle financially.

The hope is that a new owner can come to Dallas, spend some money and right the ship, stabilize the finances of the organization and get this team moving forward again.

The best thing that can happen right now is that the Stars continue to do what they're doing: win. The fans will be there, the interest will grow and while it's not going to happen overnight -- the fans will return if the team is proving that it has returned to being a fun and competitive hockey team once more.