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Former Rangers CEO & Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg “has been approved as a potential buyer for the Stars,” according to a source cited by Mike Heika of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi is “in a negotiating window that has stretched past 60 days and hopes to put in a signed purchase agreement soon,” but the process “still will allow for anyone else to outbid Gaglardi.” It is “believed other groups who have been approved to look at the books -- one that includes local businessman Billy Quinn teaming with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a second led by” CHL Allen Americans Owner Doug Miller “and a third led by Detroit businessman Christopher T. Charlton -- also could submit bids that would be above Gaglardi’s.” Additionally, Heika noted there is the “chance Galgardi decides to not make a bid, and the auction process would open up again” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/9). ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett noted Greenberg's "interest in the NHL isn't new." He "helped put together the plan that allowed Mario Lemieux to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins out of bankruptcy in the late 1990s and he tried to facilitate David McDavid's attempt to buy the Atlanta Thrashers and Atlanta Hawks, which fell through" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 7/8). The DALLAS MORNING NEWS' Heika profiled Gaglardi (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/9).
Former MLBer Steve Garvey Friday confirmed that the Dodgers have fired him “from their marketing and community relations departments,” according to Tony Jackson of ESPN L.A. The decision “appears to be a reaction to Garvey having made public his desire to be a part of a group that would purchase the club if owner Frank McCourt, who has filed for bankruptcy, is ultimately forced to sell the Dodgers.” Garvey said in an e-mail Friday, “I was always clear with management as to the exploratory ownership group I’ve put together. In fact, I twice offered a significant cash infusion to help the team.” Garvey on Saturday “was still unsure about what prompted the firing.” Dodgers VP/Communications Josh Rawitch “declined to address the matter,” saying that Dodgers policy “is to not comment on personnel matters” (ESPNLA.com, 7/9). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez noted this was Garvey’s “30th year with the organization and 15th in its front office.” When asked if it was time for McCourt to “let go of the team,” Garvey responded, “Under the circumstances, obviously it is.” He acknowledged that it "was awkward for him to draw paychecks from McCourt while speaking publicly about a future without him." Garvey said that he met in January with several Dodgers officials "to set parameters about what he could say publicly." He said that he "was instructed to point out the Dodgers weren't for sale and to not disparage McCourt when speaking about his prospective ownership group." Garvey: "I think I stayed within those parameters" (L.A. TIMES, 7/9).
TROUBLE IN THE CLUBHOUSE? SI.com’s Jon Heyman noted Dodgers players “generally deny that the team’s ongoing financial troubles (a.k.a. the McCourt mess) are affecting them,” but sources said that RF Andre Ethier is “unhappy with what’s going on" with the team. The sources said that Ethier is “more dismayed by the financial and on-field troubles than he has publicly admitted.” Sources added that “morale generally is at an alltime low among the team’s employees, so it isn’t surprising if those feelings have seeped into the clubhouse.” A team source said, “It’s been a tough deal. People wish everything would just get over with, one way or the other” (SI.com, 7/8).
RALLY FOR A CAUSE: In L.A., Jim Peltz reported a protest of the team’s ownership “drew a relatively small but boisterous crowd Saturday in front of Dodger Stadium.” About 75 to 100 people “took part in a ‘Save the Dodgers’ rally to protest” McCourt’s continued ownership of the team. The protesters, “most of whom wore Dodgers jerseys, T-shirts and caps,” gathered near a stadium entrance about an hour before the Dodgers game against the Padres (L.A. TIMES, 7/10). ESPN L.A.’s Jon Weisman noted, “As galvanized as the boycotters were by their protest, they might have been even more heartened by what was happening inside the stadium.” The Dodgers' “season-long attendance decline, amped by a national TV broadcast of a game originally scheduled for the evening, led to swaths of empty seats for the first pitch, at a level that even the cliche of late-arriving Dodger fans couldn’t explain” (ESPNLA.com, 7/9)
FROM THE BENCH: Judge Kevin Gross of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware Friday said five anti-Frank McCourt fan letters entered into the Dodgers bankruptcy case docket last week will be removed, and no new ones will be accepted. The fans have no legal standing in the case, and Gross in his ruling made it clear he has received the fans' message of frustration toward McCourt. "The Court well understands the right and motivation of fans to express their concerns for the baseball team they love, and the Court respects their passion," Gross wrote. "Nonetheless, it is not proper for the Court to docket fans' letters." Meanwhile, MLB Friday moved to compel discovery from HighBridge Capital Management regarding its proposal of interim Dodgers financing that is preferred by the club. HighBridge contends it is only a third party, and says deposing company executives would be duplicative to depositions from the Dodgers. But MLB told the court Friday that deposing HighBridge "is all the more critical now (that) the (Dodgers) have indicated they do not intend to make Mr. McCourt available for a deposition in connection with their (debtor-in-possession financing) motion." McCourt had been scheduled for deposition on Wednesday. HighBridge, in its own letter to Gross Friday, countered MLB's discovery request is "burdensome and unnecessary," and would require the disclosure of "commercially sensitive and confidential information." Gross is scheduled to hold a July 20 hearing in Wilmington, Del., on the rival interim financing proposals for the Dodgers from HighBridge and MLB (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
LIFE IMITATES ART: The season debut of HBO's “Curb Your Enthusiasm” last night featured a storyline where cast member Larry David is divorcing his wife, played by Cheryl Hines. In one scene, David is having lunch with some friends and he runs into Dodgers Owner Joe O’Donnell, played by actor Gary Cole, and his female companion. David and O’Donnell have the same divorce attorney and when David asks how his divorce is going, O’Donnell said, “It’s complicated to say the least. The team’s an asset and it’s a little precarious right now. I think it’ll come through for us, though. I’m pretty confident about that.” David replied, “Yeah, he’s good.” O’Donnell then asks David, “Would you be interested in coming out, sitting in a box with me? We can commiserate, discuss why the hell we got married in the first place.” David said, “I’d be interested, yes.” Later in the episode, David realizes their attorney is not Jewish but Swedish and they both dump him for another attorney. But the new attorney is not a very good one and O’Donnell loses the Dodgers in the divorce, punching David in the face when they meet at an elevator at the lawyer’s office (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO, 7/10).
The Giants Friday announced that they "will not hold training camp at the University of Albany, their summer base since 1996, because of logistical problems related to the NFL lockout," according to Greg Logan of NEWSDAY. The Giants instead will hold training camp "at their permanent training facility right next to New Meadowlands Stadium." Even if a new CBA is reached "within the next week," the team said that there is "not enough time to transport equipment, weights, medical supplies and other team necessities to Albany." Coach Tom Coughlin "also believes practice time will be more efficient at the Giants' home base because players have not had the benefit of organized team activities during the offseason and because the front office must move quickly to sign its own free agents, explore the market to bring in new players and sign undrafted college players." Giants President & CEO John Mara in a statement said the team has "every intention" of returning to Albany next year (NEWSDAY, 7/9). A Giants spokesperson said that practices at the team's facility "will be open to fans, though the plan for those logistics has not yet been finalized" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/9). In N.Y., Ralph Vacchiano noted the Giants "signed a three-year deal with the University at Albany before the 2010 season that included separate options for 2011 and 2012, and as recently as a few days ago they were hopeful of using the option for this year," with training camp scheduled to start on July 30. The Giants are the "third team to cancel their plans to go away for training camp, joining the Jets and the Baltimore Ravens, who had already decided to train at their own local facilities." More teams "are expected to follow, especially if the lockout extends through next week" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/9).
George Steinbrenner passed away a year ago Wednesday, and there has been a "distinct change in the feel and operation" of the Yankees since then, according to Nightengale & White of USA TODAY. Yankees DH Jorge Posada said the Yankees are a "lot more businesslike today." Yankees Senior Adviser Reggie Jackson said Steinbrenner "added a fiber and strength and confidence that we all relied on." Jackson: "He made a significant difference. I don't know if that will ever be replaced." Still, Yankees GM Brian Cashman "thinks the organization has never been in better shape since his arrival." The Yankees "draw nearly 45,000 fans a game," play in a "state-of-the-art stadium" and own the YES Network. Nightengale & White note Cashman "has been with the Yankees for 25 years," but he has "never been so bold and candid in his assessments." Cashman treated Derek Jeter in contract talks "as if the shortstop was a washed-up employee negotiating a severance package," and it is "as if Cashman can't wait to prove they can win without" Jeter and Posada. However, Cashman's "contract expires Nov. 1, and given the recent events it wouldn't be a surprise if he doesn't return." Cashman said, "Sometimes I'm burned out. Sometimes I'm enjoying it. ... I've got the greatest job I'll probably ever have. There are a lot of reasons to stay, and a lot of things hard to walk away from. But I'm not afraid to go somewhere else, let's put it that way" (USA TODAY, 7/11).
The Single-A Midwest League Dayton Dragons, a franchise that "some believed would never make it" in the city, Saturday set a new "professional sports record for consecutive sellouts," according to Sean McClelland of the DAYTON DAILY NEWS. The team's 815th consecutive sellout broke a tie with the Trail Blazers, who sold out 814 consecutive games from '77-95. Once the sellout was official at the end of the fifth inning, the Dragons unveiled a "permanent '815' logo on the outfield wall to the left of center field between the Welcome to Fifth Third Field sign and the 381-foot marker." The team also played a video "complete with congratulatory messages from Reds manager Dusty Baker, Dragons part owners Magic Johnson and Archie Griffin and several politicians." Dragons players and coaches "assembled in front of their dugout" and applauded. The Dragons came to Dayton in '00, and team President Bob Murphy, Exec VP Eric Deutsch and Exec VP & GM Gary Mayse "all have been with the Dragons from the beginning, so the night was extra special for them." McClelland noted Mayse "had tears in his eyes" Saturday. Mandalay Baseball Properties CEO Art Matin, whose company "founded the team and continues to operate it," also was in attendance at Saturday's game. He said of the streak, "We hope it goes on forever." Matin: "I think 1,000 is a nice round number. ... I can't imagine Dayton not being a sold-out situation" (DAYTON DAILY NEWS, 7/10).
The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts reported Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer is "taking a serious look at buying" the Blues. Hulsizer, who last month withdrew his longstanding offer to buy the Coyotes, "recently toured the Scottrade Center in St. Louis" with Blues Chair Dave Checketts. A source said that Hulsizer and Checketts are "discussing a price in the range" of $165-170M. A banking source said that the Blues' financial situation "is not in ideal condition," which means Hulsizer "is in position to drive a hard bargain." Shoalts noted a "sale to Hulsizer does not mean Checketts is out as a Blues owner." While Hulsizer "wants to be the majority owner, he is interested in keeping Checketts as a partner" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/9).
HEALTH CONSCIOUS: Kings GM Dean Lombardi, contending that the Oilers "had twice misrepresented the health of a traded player, said Friday the Kings will 'look at our legal avenues' for a remedy." Lombardi said, "The bottom line for me, I would have rather invested my money with Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton's word." Lombardi balked at a recent trade for Oilers C Gilbert Brule after the Kings "determined Brule hadn't been procedurally cleared following a concussion." The Kings instead accepted C Colin Fraser from the Oilers and a "seventh-round pick in the 2012 entry draft without checking with legal counsel." Lombardi said that the Oilers "told him Fraser was days from being cleared after recovering from a fractured foot." But Lombardi noted that the Kings' doctors "found Fraser has a cyst in his foot and a blood disorder and will need surgery and four months' recovery" (L.A. TIMES, 7/9).
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote under the header, "I'll Own Up: Rangers Aced Richards Deal." The Rangers signed C Brad Richards to a six-year deal, and Richards "left money on the table to sign." Brooks wrote, "This was the time to declare. It is not about getting younger every year, never has been. It is not about seven years down the road. It is about contending. It is about winning. Here is my definition of a good owner in New York: 1) He spends money as recommended by the general manager; 2) He does not meddle." James Dolan is a "good owner of a New York hockey team" (N.Y. POST, 7/10).
CALL OF THE WILD: In Minneapolis, Michael Russo noted Wild GM Chuck Fletcher "executed three deals 10 days apart" this offseason to "re-energize his fan base and locker room." Wild COO Matt Majka said that the team "has sold almost 400 season tickets since the draft -- a combination of new business and season-ticket holders the team thought it had lost." Majka said, "It's hard to remember the last time we felt this kind of excitement around the team" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/9).
Drayton McLane on Friday said that while there "remains some hope of closure" for his sale of the Astros to Jim Crane later this month, "the process could be dragged out to the August 18 owners’ meetings" (CHRON.com, 7/8). In Houston, Zachary Levine writes under the header, "As Drayton McLane Leaves Baseball, He Still Maintains A Commitment To Community." McLane has "always stated two missions: to be a champion and to make a positive difference in the community. The first "carries a complicated legacy; the second an undeniable one." McLane has built "one of baseball’s most active foundations and community relations programs" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/11).
MAKING PROGRESS: In Akron, Sheldon Ocker reports yesterday's crowd of 21,148 for the Blue Jays-Indians game "brought attendance at Progressive Field to 949,809, which means the Tribe will pass 1 million the next homestand against the White Sox, Angels and Royals." At the Indians' current average of 21,106 fans per game at Progressive Field, they "will draw 1,709,000 for the season." That "hardly hearkens back to the days when the ballpark was sold out for 455 consecutive games, but it exceeds team projections by 200,000 and is 300,000-plus more than 2010" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/11).
MONSTER BASH: In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy noted based on the amount of money N.Y. Times Co. received for its sale of "more than half of its 17 percent investment in the Red Sox, it looks as if John Henry’s investment in the team has almost tripled in value since he bought it in December 2001." Shaughnessy: "So let’s not weep about payroll and luxury tax. The Sox are swimming in cash" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/10).
COAL IN YOUR STOCKING: In St. Louis, Lisa Brown reported the Cardinals are "suing an Illinois trucking company, Curry Ice & Coal, over unpaid fees totaling more than $600,000 for a suite at Busch Stadium." Curry Ice & Coal "was one of the original companies to sign long-term commitments with the Cardinals for a suite" while the ballpark was under construction in '04. The company "paid for the first four years after Busch Stadium opened in 2006." But in a lawsuit filed in the St. Louis Circuit Court last Thursday, the Cardinals allege that Curry Ice & Coal "did not pay for its suite when the bill was due in January." The Cardinals are "seeking repayment of $615,693, which includes attorney's fees and expenses" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/9).