The NHL Shift: News and notes, 5/30/2014

The NHL Shift

Islanders update: Barroway’s pursuit ongoing

The potential sale of the New York Islanders to Philadelphia attorney turned hedge-fund manager Andrew Barroway remains up to Charles Wang, the team’s current owner.

“Charles is still deciding what he wants to do,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Shift at the Sports Business Awards ceremony last week. “No decision has been made.”

When we pressed the issue and asked Bettman if he was optimistic Wang would complete a sale by the start of the 2014-15 season, the commissioner smiled. “I’m optimistic that Charles will make a decision by then,” Bettman said.

While Wang wrestles with the idea of selling the Islanders for as much as $400 million before the club moves into Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015, Barroway appears to be the prospective owner of choice of the league office. An industry source this week said the league brokered the initial contact between representatives of Wang (who has declined to comment on negotiations) and Barroway.

“Other bidders could join the process and the NHL won’t stand in their way,” the source said, “but the league thought Barroway would be good for the Islanders.”

Although he withdrew from his pursuit of purchasing the New Jersey Devils last summer, Barroway made a favorable impression during that process. Among the team of executives representing him were two highly experienced men. One was Michael Rowe, the former EVP and COO of the Meadowlands, former part-owner and president of the New Jersey Nets, and now the leader of Positive Impact, his own sports consulting firm. The other was Carl Hirsh, managing partner of Stafford Sports, the sports and entertainment facilities and properties advisory firm in New Jersey. Over the last 25 years, Hirsch has facilitated team purchases and arena deals for the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic and Florida Panthers, among many others. He is a former president and CEO of the Spectrum and former president of Spectacor Development in Philadelphia.

Barroway lives and works in the Philadelphia suburbs.

“Andy would be a great owner for the Islanders,” Hirsch said this week. “He’s passionate about hockey and he’s resourceful. If he took over the Islanders, my feeling is that the fans and everyone associated with the team would be very fortunate. I have a lot of faith in him.”

Hirsch and Rowe are not currently involved in Barroway’s talks to buy the Islanders, but their presence on his negotiating team last summer illustrates that Barroway wants, and is willing to pay for, experienced executives.

Barroway also made a good impression on his potential Devils sellers.

“We found him to be extremely likable and a gentleman to deal with,” said Rich Krezwick, the former president of business operations of the Devils under former owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek, now SVP of facilities for AEG in Europe. “My sense is that he really wants to own an NHL team and put the best pieces in place to be successful.”

If Bettman is correct, we’ll know this summer whether Wang will give Barroway, or anyone else, the opportunity to try.


BY THE NUMBERS

74 years old: The age of The Rangers Victory Song, which was played as the New York Rangers celebrated their win last night over Montreal at Madison Square Garden to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. The song was written after the Rangers won the Cup in 1940 by J. Fred Coots, an avid fan of the team. Coots, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame — he wrote “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” among his more than 700 songs — died in 1985 at the age of 87.

$1,200: In the hours after the Rangers’ victory on Thursday, upper-level seats for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final were available at that price on StubHub.

$952: The most-expensive tickets available on StubHub for tonight’s Western Conference Final Game 6 in Los Angeles between the Kings and Blackhawks. Those seats are in the end zone of the lower bowl of Staples Center.

22 of 86: Of the 86 games played so far in this year’s playoffs, 22 have gone to overtime. Additionally, the Rangers’ 1-0 win last night was the 39th playoff game decided by one goal.

1.294 million viewers: That’s the combined NBCSN/CNBC average viewership for playoff games this month, a number that makes this the best May on cable for the NHL postseason since 2000, according to NBC Sports Group.

10 conference finals games: Called by play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert, who is traveling cross-country almost daily to work the Western Conference Final for NBCSN and the Eastern Conference Final for ESPN Radio in New York. (Albert is the Rangers’ regular play-by-play man for radio). Tonight’s game in Los Angeles will be the eleventh for Albert, who missed Game 1 of the Rangers-Canadiens series.

0 days of experience: With the introduction of Brian MacLellan as Capitals general manager earlier this week, all of the men hired as general managers in 2014 started their new jobs without any experience as GMs in the NHL. All have either been assistant GMs or served as a director of hockey operations at the NHL level. Still to come is the Penguins’ new GM, replacing Ray Shero. The lineup to date:

Jim Benning, Vancouver
Ron Francis, Carolina
Ron Hextall, Philadelphia
Brian MacLellan, Washington
Tim Murray, Buffalo
Brad Treviling, Calgary

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