In spite of the perception that owning a sports franchise is a license to print money, the opposite is often true in the NHL. The most recent case: the Dallas Stars.
It's only the first stage of what appears to be a serious problem, but
Hicks claims he is merely attempting to restructure debt that it isn't a problem, but
The Journal says bankruptcy for the Stars is a possibility, which Hicks disputes, but when that happens in the NHL, there is usually a second skate to drop: new ownership. There are reports (and no comments from the NHL) that the league has moved to institute protective measures, contacting the Stars' lenders about dealing with this situation.
We should point out the NHL is good at handling such matters. See: past bankruptcies in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Buffalo, and Ottawa. It has intervened in Phoenix to help keep the Coyotes afloat. There have been meetings with creditors and the Lightning's new owners to solve their difficulties. The league has also gone to great lengths to help clean up the mess involving
Dallas was not thought to be on the list of ailing teams, and Hicks' problems illustrate the difficulty faced by highly-leveraged sports franchises in this era of fiscal crisis. Hicks is having trouble attracting investors largely because those who have money want no part of a franchise in this economy, and those who might be interested but don't have financing aren't likely to get any from banks and other such enterprises that now take a dim view of such ventures.
According to several financial publications, Hicks has even more debt problems looming in that a note for some $400 million -- used to finance the purchase of the Liverpool soccer team in England's Premier League along with Montreal Canadiens owner
It's not uncommon to withhold interest payments while attempting to negotiate a more favorable business loan, but it's usually done because a debtor anticipates bankruptcy and doesn't see the value of sending out checks when protection from the courts is the goal. Either that or Hicks expects an even more serious problem and is hording his resources accordingly.
This has profound implications for everyone from
This situtation is surely no good for the NHL or for hockey. Dallas had been one of the Southern franchises that worked. Since relocating from Minnesota in 1993, the Stars have put a Stanley Cup in their trophy room and enjoyed at least the perception of strong ownership. Now they appear on the endangered species list.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are making noise about acquiring highly-regarded prospect
Both teams are struggling financially. The Leafs are not. Both could use a star-quality young player who would fit nicely under the salary cap. Both could also use more than one player and some cap relief. The Lightning got some from the Leafs at the trade deadline when they struck a deal that removed players from their roster that the Leafs will likely never use.
Burke may just be grandstanding to the Leafs' restless fanbase, and what he is attempting won't be easy, but he's done it in the past. He made moves while GM in Hartford to get the second pick in the draft and select
Those kind of deals are harder to make now, but Burke can be relentless. If the Islanders are more interested in a defenseman, say the highly-rated
Teams seldom make changes off one game, but you can rest assured the Washington Capitals now have
The Caps dominated everywhere but in goal, and that can't be lost on coach
Bet on the officials keeping an even closer eye on New York's
Officiating will also be a topic in the St. Louis-Vancouver series where both sides were surprised by the number of power plays (11) called in Game One, a 2-1 Vancouver victory. What was even more surprising, however, was St. Louis' inability to cash in on the advantages it got. The Blues power play has been a primary reason they raced from the bottom of the pack to a playoff spot in the West, but Canucks goalie