The Dallas Stars ownership mess has finally been cleaned up.
The purchase of the team by Vancouver businessman Tom Gagliardi was approved by a bankruptcy court in Delaware on Friday, jumping the final hurdle before the ownership keys could be handed over. And just like that, the Stars are out of debt.
Considering Gagliardi was already approved by the Board of Governors, this wraps up the deal. The official announcement was made by the NHL and Dallas Stars on Friday evening.
Gagliardi takes over a franchise that has gone through some awfully tough days in the past few years after former owner Tom Hicks defaulted on his loans. Since then the NHL looked for a new owner with a plan to get the team out of its debt. They found their man in Gagliardi.
It's not going to be easy for Gagliardi from the start. The Stars have been losing money at a pretty staggering rate in the past few seasons and are projected to lose $31 million this season. But the plan for Gagliardi is to commit to winning again and upgrading the fan experience to try and turn things around. Dallas has shown it is a suitable market for a viable hockey franchise in the past.
With the core of players the Stars have, Gagliardi gets a nice head-start on one of those objectives -- the winning. The Stars have been one of the surprises of the early season, jumping out to a very fast start before finally hitting a bump in the road in the last week.
The fan equation might be a bit tougher. Despite the winning start, the Stars have really struggled to attract people to their games. Taking out the home opener and the largest crowd the Stars have had at home was 11,981 against the Avalanche on Nov. 4.
This is the greatest news to hit Dallas since the second out of the ninth inning in Game 6 of this year's World Series. Stable ownership has come back to Dallas and hopefully the fans will respond. Plus, I assume, the Stars will be able to be buyers at the trade deadline if they so desire with a new-found money source.
Is this akin to Terry Pegula buying the Sabres? Not exactly. Pegula is and has been a fervent fan of the Sabres and is one of the richest owners in hockey (fourth to be exact) who came to the table right away willing to spend to the cap and get the Sabres to the Cup. Gagliardi probably can't attack as quick as Pegula did with the few obstacles he's facing.
Plus, there should be no fears of Gagliardi looking to move the franchise; he has ties to the state of Texas. In addition to his mom being from Longview, he has family that lives in the Metroplex, so he's familiar with the lay of the land.
The first move Gagliardi made as the new owner was to hire Jim Lites as the team president, as position Lites held from 1993-2007, minus some time he spent with the Coyotes in 2002.
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