SBD/21/Franchises

ARE LES NORDIQUES HEADED FOR THE HILLS? COMSAT BID REPORTED

     Nuggets-owner Comsat has offered $75M to buy the Nordiques
and move them to Denver, according to a report in Saturday's
TORONTO SUN.  The team would reportedly play in the new
arena/studio complex planned for the Nuggets that will open in
'97 (Al Strachan, TORONTO SUN, 2/18).  Comsat President Charlie
Lyons denied the offer in Sunday's ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, but
"conceded there's a chance an NHL team could move to Denver."
Lyons: "We're not going to get riled up every time someone writes
a speculative article or someone passes a rumor around.  The
likely scenario is going to be expansion." One "NHL Insider" says
Nordiques' Co-owner Marcel Aubut "could be bluffing" for a new
arena in Quebec. Possible obstacles:  The NHL's "desire to avoid
uprooting franchises, especially in Canada"; Quebec's Olympic bid
could bring a new arena;  NHL owners' desire to grant Denver an
expansion team (Clay Latimer, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/19).  In
Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes that a move would rid the league
"of one of its small-market headaches and perhaps its most
cantankerous and belligerent owner. ... Comsat could be the Ted
Turner-like broadcast partner/visionary the league needs" (BOSTON
GLOBE, 2/20).  Last week, the ARIZONA REPUBLIC reported that
Phoenix could be a possible site for the Nordiques (Toronto GLOBE
& MAIL, 2/17).
     NHL TARGETS?  Sunday's ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS quotes one NHL
insider as saying the NHL wants to expand "by six more cities by
the year 2000."  Possibilities: Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta,
Houston, Portland and Minneapolis (Clay Latimer, ROCKY MOUNTAIN
NEWS, 2/20)  In the Twin Cities, Charley Walters reports there is
a second local group interested in buying an NHL team for the
Target Center other than T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor (SAINT PAUL
PIONEER-PRESS, 2/19).
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