|Tom Stillman (Getty Images)|
The ownership saga in Phoenix and the now concluded one in Dallas have taken most of the headlines when it comes to who is paying the bills where, but don't forget about the St. Louis Blues. The long process is still ongoing to find a new owner to replace Dave Checketts.
It looked like the solution was near a couple of months ago. That's when Matthew Hulsizer -- you might remember him from such failed ownership bids as the Phoenix Coyotes -- signed a purchase agreement. He had exclusive negotiating rights up until Jan. 1.
Obviously nothing came of that.
So it's on to the next potential buyer. Turns out, he's a familiar one to the Blues already.
Current minority owner Tom Stillman has filled the void left by Hulsizer and signed a purchase agreement with the Blues this week according to multiple reports out of St. Louis, including Jeremy Rutherford at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Blues and Stillman must now complete the sale and have it approved by the NHL, a process that could take several weeks. The league's Board of Governors will meet Jan. 28 in Ottawa during the all-star festivities, but it's expected that only an update on the Blues' situation would be discussed, not a vote. ...
The price of the package, which includes the Blues, the team's top minor-league affiliate in Peoria, Ill., the Scottrade Center lease and significant interest in the Peabody Opera House, is expected to be approximately $130-135 million.
In December, the Blues were valued at $157 million, ranking 27th in the NHL, by Forbes.com.
The purchase agreement between Stillman and the Blues is an adaptation of the Hulsizer deal, which was signed in late October but after two months could not be closed because the NHL would not approve Hulsizer's financing structure.
While Blues chairman Dave Checketts and TowerBrook Capital Partners are listed as the sellers in the process, the league is guiding the transaction. Sources have indicated in recent months that if the club went much longer without the completion of a sale, bankruptcy was a strong possibility for the franchise.
Rutherford goes on to mention that there is a group of investors along with Stillman involved. Another name that is in talks to join the group is former Blues star Brett Hull.
This is a great time for Stillman to be entering the picture, particularly at such a low value for the franchise. With the season they are having, the Blues are again a hot item in St. Louis. They haven't had problems selling tickets despite their struggles, but the value is only going to rise the better they play. And they can't play much better than they have under Ken Hitchcock.
The sooner a deal could get done to transfer ownership to Stillman the better for the Blues. If they could clean up any uncertainty around the ownership situation, one that has been murky for two years now, it would likely bode well for a stretch run and a chance to add any players they might feel helps them advance further.
One thing is for sure: the fans in St. Louis would love for this whole thing to just be wrapped up already whether it's Hulsizer, Stillman or anybody else.For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.