SBD/July 7, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Gretzky's Agent Denies Report Of Interest In Taking NHL Franchise To Seattle

Gretzky reportedly had one of three groups interested in a Seattle NHL team
Hockey HOFer Wayne Gretzky's agent, Darren Blake, is "denying a report" from the N.Y. Post that Gretzky is "trying to bring an NHL team to Seattle," according to the CP. Blake in an e-mail wrote that Gretzky "isn't involved in any bid." Blake wrote, "As you can imagine prospective team owners from various franchises call frequently to gauge his interest in coming on board. Seattle is no different." Meanwhile, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "declined to comment on the report" (CP, 7/4). In N.Y., Kosman & Brooks reported in the original article Gretzky has "joined a group of investors" hoping to bring a team to Seattle. Sources said that the Gretzky group is "one of three looking to bring an NHL franchise" to Seattle, but each "faces an uphill battle in that league Commissioner Gary Bettman has not said the league is ready to expand." It is "not known if the Gretzky group or either of the other two groups are eyeing an expansion team or hope to move an existing team to the Pacific Northwest." Gretzky in '11 "partnered with Providence Equity Partners," a N.Y-based private-equity firm, in a $1.5B bid for MLSE, which owns the Maple Leafs and Raptors. However, the NHL "rejected the group’s offer because it would have been structured as a leveraged buyout with debt levels higher" than 50% of the franchise value (N.Y. POST.com, 7/4). CBSSPORTS.com's Chris Peters wrote should Gretzky "ever get involved in the Seattle group, it would go a ways in legitimizing their campaign and putting a very famous face on the NHL-to-Seattle process." That said, there are "still so many snags in Seattle's hopes for an NHL team, not the least of which is the need for the city to attain an NBA team once again" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/5).
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