ST. LOUIS MO - DECEMBER 16: The St. Louis Blues face-off against the Los Angeles Kings at the Scottrade Center on December 16 2010 in St. Louis Missouri. The Blues defeated the Kings 6-4. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Sale Of Blues To Tom Stillman Approved By Unanimous Board of Governors Vote

With the playoffs behind them, the Blues are looking forward to an era with probable new owner Tom Stillman and his ownership group.

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Blues Schedule Press Conference To Introduce New Owners, Management

The St. Louis Blues will be holding an official press conference at 11:00 AM to introduce Tom Stillman and the other members of the ownership group that just purchased the Blues, Peoria Rivermen, part ownership of the Peabody Opera House, and the Scottrade Center lease. According to the press release, Gary Bettman will be in attendance, which might mark the first time in heaven knows how long he’s set foot in St. Louis.

Just when we thought we were in the clear.

The press conference will be aired on FoxSports Midwest as well as KMOX 1120. Presumably it will also be streamed live on the Blues site too.

Blues captain David Backes is excited for the new ownership. In a statement to the Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, Backes had this to say:

“A guy that’s passionate, from the St. Louis area … he’s around the rink as much as the players are, he’s on road trips … what more could you want?”

Indeed.

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It's Official: Blues Sale To Tom Stillman Is Complete

It’s finally official — the Blues have a new ownership group made up of Tom Stillman and four other local investors. All of them are St. Lousians, which should add to the “caring” that’s going on. Hometown owners owning a hometown team? That’s a fan’s pipe dream come true.

The League announced today that the Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the sale to Stillman’s group. The sale price was expected to be between $120-$130 million, and includes the Peoria Rivermen, a part of the Peabody Opera House, and the Scottrade Center lease.

A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow to introduce the new owners to the press and to the fans. Heads up — it might involve Commish Gary Bettman. Plan accordingly.

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Sale Of St. Louis Blues Set To Go, Waiting For Right Time To Announce

In welcome news, the Blues’ ownership question mark is about to be resolved. David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail is reporting that prospective owner Tom Stillman has his paperwork in order and ducks in a row, and is just waiting for the right time to make a purchase announcement. if the Blues keep playing like they are now, it could be as soon as next week.

I digress.

Stillman has been actively perusing ownership of the Blues (along with the Peoria Rivermen, Peabody Opera House, and the lease on the Scottrade Center) since early January, when Matthew Hulsizer’s deal to purchase the team fell through. Shoalts mentions that this is perfect timing for the sale, considering that the financial situation under current owner Dave Checketts necessitates the NHL to pay the team’s bills, probably, as Shoalts speculates, via advances on the team’s share of league revenues.

NHL Deputy Commissioner promptly denied all of this, which is apparently his job considering how much he denied that the Atlanta Thrashers were going to be sold to True North Sports and Entertainment. If Daly denies it, it’s probably true.

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St. Louis Blues Sale: Tom Stillman In Exclusive Negiotating Window With Dave Checketts

Since Matthew Hulsizer’s out on the “hey, I want to buy the Blues/whatever hockey team’s available” front, the Blues’ minority owner Tom Stillman now has an exclusive crack at buying the team. Per the St. Louis Business Journal, that negotiating period has begun, and Stillman has gathered a fairly good group of investors around him to make it happen.

The Journal’s article focuses on local sports medicine guru Dr. Richard Lehman. Lehman is a member of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, and is also part owner of the St. Louis Aces tennis team and the Florida Panthers. That last part’s important on two levels. One: Lehman actually has a decent relationship with the league (read: hasn’t done anything to lead them on/anger them) and two: you can’t be a part owner of two teams at once.

Lehman’d have to sell his stake in the Panthers to get his stake in the Blues, which is a decision that’d make sense from a location standpoint as well as consistency in team success – in theory. The Panthers and Blues are both on playoff runs right now, but the stability for the future as far as the team’s on-ice winning could be a concern. Home grown talent vs. a team cobbled together of free agents (well-cobbled, mind you) could be a draw for the good doctor.

Lehman could not comment to the Business Journal regarding the process, though he did offer this up:

“We’ve been asked by the league to not say anything to the media regarding the specifics, but I can confirm that I’m part of this amazing group of local investors and that we look forward to getting a deal done.”

Factor in one Brett Hull, and you have a dream team of guys waiting to purchase the team, at least to the fan base.
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Matthew Hulsizer Could Be Set To Sign Purchase Agreement For Blues Today

After some discounting of aforementioned verbal agreements by various and sundry parties, it seems like there was something to the story after all. Matthew Hulsizer, late of the Phoenix Coyotes fiasco, apparently could sign a deal to purchase the St. Louis Blues some time today.

Dave Checketts has been under some pressure to sell the team fairly quickly, what with a $120 million Citigroup loan hanging over his head that has come due. This will not be an outright purchase of the Blues, but rather Hulsizer will fork up the cash to become majority owner, thereby covering at least that loan.

The Board of Governors already approved Hulsizer for the Coyotes sale before the City of Glendale and the Goldwater Group got into their spat over funding, so chances are good he’d be approved at the next BOG meeting in December to become the majority owner of the Blues.

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Blues Possibly To Be Sold To Matthew Hulsizer Per Verbal Agreement

The first game of the season deadline that Dave Checketts and the Blues set for the sale of the team a few months back seems to be do-able, if reports of a verbal agreement between him and Matthew Hulsizer are correct. According to Jeremy Rutherford, Checketts will be selling a majority stake of the team to the man who was formerly connected to the purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes.

It is of note that this deal is not legally binding and it won’t be until both sides complete a formal sale and the deal is approved by the NHL Board of Governors. The Board already approved one sale this year unanimously: that of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment. If you’ve missed it somehow, the Thrashers are now the new Winnipeg Jets. Rest assured, however, that the Blues will not be moving to Saskatoon any time soon.

This situation could be a continuation of the familiar for Blues fans, as Hulsizer could be just purchasing a majority share in the tam, with Checketts to remain on-board. Considering the fact that Hulsizer has never expressed interest in purchasing an NHL team at full market value, that senario would not be unthinkable.

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Declined Blues Bidder Has Spotty Past Notes Toronto Globe And Mail Story

Perhaps Dave Checketts had a good reason for declining the bid of Calgary businessman Max Chambers and his group. According to some research done by the Toronto Globe and Mail, there’s actually very little to be known about this investor – and as we learned with the Atlanta Thrashers saga, unknown entities need not apply.

From the article:

The trouble is, next to no information on either of Chambers’s alleged companies can be found. There were no telephone numbers or addresses available nor was Chambers listed in the telephone directory.

Someone whose business involves checking out potential buyers of professional sports teams said he asked several people in Calgary, including some bankers, about Chambers. No one had ever heard of him.

Oh, well that doesn’t bode well. The article gets deeper, mentioning that Chambers has also tried to buy a CFL expansion team, along with the WHA 2 league’s Jacksonville Barracudas and the Orlando Seals. The sale fell through because Chambers didn’t pay the $100,000 deposit on the teams. It sounds like fans who were upset at Checketts for not taking the offer that Chambers’ group made jumped the gun a bit. Unless he walked into the office with a suitcase full of bills, I’d be hesitant in accepting an offer from him too.

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Blues Reject $167 Million Offer According To Prospective Buyer

I suppose a better phrase’d be “former prospective buyer,” because after stating to the public – even secretly – that their offer’s been turned down, I doubt that Dave Checketts and Co. will feel like working with them anymore.

The Blues are apparently heck-bound to sell the Blues, Peoria Rivermen, and the lease agreement on the Scottrade Center for $190 million, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. With ten initial prospective buyers submitting bids, the denial of one twenty million dollars below the asking price doesn’t seem shocking. Max Chambers, the Calgary businessman who sent in the bid, was surprised that Checketts didn’t accept it.

In this economy, many low bidders are expecting an automatic acceptance of low bids because no one’ll bid any higher. Sure, that’s a possibility, but it also is a possibility that a slightly higher bid could come in. It’s difficult to pass judgement on a situation without being able to compare Chambers’ bid to the others submitted, but if others were higher, then it makes sense that Checketts’d decline this one.

The offer is still on the table for now from the group that boasts former NHLer Bryan Trottier as the front guy. Chambers is giving the offer ten more days before a resolution’s reached or else he is planning on withdrawing the bid.

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Blues Attract Ownership Group That Includes Brian Trottier

Consider this out of left field: according to reports, there's a new interested owner in town.  Max Chambers, who is a Calgary businessman who once flirted with purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes, has an investment group put together to explore a purchase of the St. Louis Blues. Who's the frontman for the group? Former NHL star Brian Trottier. Trots played for 15 years for the New York Islanders, winning four Stanley Cups before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins to win two more before retiring in 1994. Trottier also inexplicably coached the Rangers for less than a season before being fired 54 games in for generally being the perfect example of talent on the ice not translating into talent behind the bench (see: Gretzky, Wayne). 

Chambers apparently has financing in place that would help him get a sale done ASAP if necessary. The franchise's asking price - which includes the Peoria Rivermen and the lease terms for the Scottrade Center - is around $180 million. 

This should concern Blues fans, however - who had an experience with the Lauries in what happens when people interested in one sport settle for hockey:

Little is known about Chambers, an oil man, other than his brief flirtation with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009.

An article in the Toronto Globe & Mail listed Chambers among the groups "kicking the tires" with the Coyotes, who have since been taken over by the NHL.

In the article, Earl Scudder, a lawyer for former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes, indicated that Chambers was "more interested in buying an NFL team."

Hopefully he's changed his mind since then and is 100% in it to buy a hockey team - or else Trottier's part of his group to make that facade more real.

For more Blues coverage, please visit SB Nation's St. Louis Blues site, St. Louis Game Time. For more hockey coverage, please visit SB Nation's hockey hub.

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Prospective Bids For The St. Louis Blues Due Today, August 22nd

The bids from the buyers interested in purchasing the St. Louis Blues are all due today to Dave Checketts and Game Plan, LLC. As mentioned before, nine process letters were sent to interested parties informing them that the 22nd was the date that their bids needed to be in in for review. 

Someone who will not be submitting a bid for the team is Matthew Hulsizer, the businessman who was previously interested (and declined to) purchase the Phoenix CoyotesAndy Strickland has mentioned that he won't be submitting a bid, yet if none of the bids submitted today are to Checketts' liking, Checketts can still exercise the option to send Hulsizer an offer on the team.

The Blues, who are for sale along with their AHL affiliate Peoria Rivermen, the lease terms to the Scottrade Center, and possibly the Peabody Opera House, are expected to fetch around $200 million. Hulsizer wanted public assistance to purchase the Coyotes when their listing price was cheaper and included fewer properties.

 

For more Blues coverage, please visit SB Nation's St. Louis Blues site, St. Louis Game Time. For more hockey coverage, please visit SB Nation's hockey hub.

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Blues Get Three More Interested Parties Kicking The Tires

Apparently with the pending sale of the Dallas Stars to Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi, the former interested parties have moved on to the other franchise for sale - the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues, who along with the AHL's Peoria Rivermen and the lease on the Scottrade Center, are valued at an estimate  $165 million. Matthew Hulsizer, who was the leading candidate to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes, was assumed to be the largest interested party in the Blues, along with current minority owner Tom Stillman. 

With the increased competition comes the chances for the cost of the team to exceed $190 million, according to TSN. This would be more than the recent price that the Buffalo Sabres fetched when they were purchased by businessman Terry Pegula earlier this year. This would mean a healthy $40 million profit turned on the $150 million that the Blues cost Checketts and his partners initially.

The demand for the team coupled with the team's sell-out streak and smart management should be a wake-up call for some of the commenters on the TSN article. Not every team for sale is going to move. Dallas isn't going anywhere, and neither are the Blues. We've been through this Saskatoon stuff before.

 

For more Blues coverage, please visit SB Nation's St. Louis Blues site, St. Louis Game Time. For more hockey coverage, please visit SB Nation's hockey hub.

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Matthew Hulsizer Shifts His Attention From Coyotes To The St. Louis Blues

After pulling out of the lengthy process to purchase the beleaguered (and league owned) Phoenix Coyotes because he couldn't get the deal from the City of Glendale that he wanted, Matthew Hulsizer has apparently set his sights on the St. Louis Blues, according to the Globe and Mail.

Hulsizer, you may remember, was expert at trying to get Glendale to front part of his cost of the purchase of the Coyotes by using $100 million municipal bonds. Of course, the Goldwater Institute wasn't having any of that, and by blocking the use of those bonds made it difficult for Hulsizer to get the 'Yotes at the discounted price that he wanted to. He pulled out of negotiations with the urging for Phoenix fans to "keep the faith," but he left more uncertainty than before.

It has been assumed that Hulsizer has wanted to get into the mix for another team that was for sale. The Dallas Stars have just announced that Chuck Greenberg has been approved as a potential buyer for them. It seems that the sale of that team's moving along nicely. The only other visible, on the market team is the St. Louis Blues, so it seems natural that Hulsizer would be interested.

Hulsizer recently went on a tour of Scottrade Arena with owner Dave Checketts, and is asking for a selling price of $160-$170 million, according to an unnamed source. Hulsizer would be interested in keeping Checketts on as a partner, presumably because of his knowledge and history with the franchise.

The mention of Hulsizer concerns me for one reason - the length and the complexity of the negotiations for Phoenix. The situation out there's been muddled for a while, not least of all because of Hulsizer's seeking of city support.  

With the Blues, he would also be purchasing the Peoria Rivermen AHL franchise. 

For more Blues coverage, please visit SB Nation's St. Louis Blues site, St. Louis Game Time. For more hockey coverage, please visit SB Nation's hockey hub.

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