NHL Franchise Notes: Bettman Says Blues Sale Could Be Done Soon
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Friday said that the sale of the Blues to club minority Owner Tom Stillman "could be completed 'soon.'" Bettman met with Stillman recently and said when the “lawyers are done doing their things,” the sale will move forward. In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford reported the next, and final, step for Stillman will be "to meet with the NHL Board of Governors for final approval.” Stillman signed a purchase agreement on Jan. 20 to buy the Blues for $180M, but “that figure includes close to $50 million in future interest that will be divided among the current Blues owners” (STLTODAY.com, 4/20).
JAMISON STILL WORKING ON COYOTES: Former Sharks President & CEO Greg Jamison said that he is “still working on financing” the purchase of the Coyotes and has “additional work to do with both Glendale and the NHL.” Jamison said, "We’re working on it. There’s been progress made. We are optimistic that this can get done, but this is not a guarantee that this can get done.” In Phoenix, Lisa Halverstadt noted Jamison’s comments "followed months of silence about his bid” to buy the team, as he has not "spoken much about his bid ... since Glendale and the NHL confirmed his interest last August.” Jamison said that “he could not say how soon a deal could be reached to buy the team, just that he hopes he can” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/22).
SEEING A SPIKE: In Nashville, Nicole Young wrote that advancing to the second round of the NHL playoffs for the second straight year “is propelling Predators frenzy to the highest level ever seen in Nashville.” The “mounting hockey craze could mean a financial boost” for the team and the city. After "steep drops" in spending in '08-09, sports sponsorships have “bounced back somewhat” over the past two years and are “likely to be aided by a deeper playoff run that matches or exceeds last season’s success.” Winning “generally breeds fans and corporate spending” on items such as T-shirts and beer before and after games, and merchandise and souvenir sales are “a substantial money maker, too, with each home playoff game giving the team another chance to sell merchandise” (Nashville TENNESEAN, 4/22).
RAT RACE: In Miami, Christina De Nicola reports a sellout crowd of 19,513 attended Saturday's Devils-Panthers Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game Five at BankAtlantic Center. The crowd "was the largest to see a Panthers playoff game in franchise history." Meanwhile, the Panthers are “really struggling to control the practice of rubber rats being thrown onto the ice” after goals and during play. The Panthers figure Devils fans “are to blame for the rodents being tossed onto the ice in the final minutes as officials could call a delay penalty on the home team.” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen: “It was so nice playing here in front of our home fans. It was electric. I am a little concerned about the rats. I know there are a lot of Devils fans throwing them out there” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/23).