October 05, 2011
If Jeremy Rutherford's report on STLToday.com is accurate, former Phoenix Coyotes suitor Matthew Hulsizer should start figuring out what to send to the bumbling Glendale City Council and the persistent Goldwater Institute watchdogs as a heartfelt "thank you."
Does Edible Arrangements have a "thanks for saving me from a potential money pit so I can purchase the St. Louis Blues" fruit display? Does Hallmark make that card; and if so, does it play "When the Saints Go Marching In?"
From Rutherford, news that Hulsizer has a verbal agreement with Dave Checketts to purchase a majority stake in the Blues:
Two of the sources said that Checketts has signed a letter of intent and believe the deal is with Hulsizer, although one source indicated that it's a verbal agreement and is far from being completed. The deal is not considered binding and would not become official until the two sides enter a purchase agreement and it's approved by the NHL.
It appears, however, that if the negotiations progress in the current direction, Hulsizer would become the Blues' No. 1 investor and Checketts could remain in the management of the franchise.
The idea that someone would purchase a majority stake in the Blues rather than the whole hog had been a viable option since the start of the process, but began seeming like the only one as time passed. After reports that Checketts was seeking $190 million for the team and rejecting $167 million all-cash offers for a team that had been on the market since last May, someone stepping up for the whole franchise seemed farfetched.
Hulsizer's desire to retain Checketts has been documented since his name first surfaced as potential owner for the Blues. David Rogers of Frozen Notes discussed Checketts staying aboard:
It's worth discussing the aspect of keeping Checketts in his old role. From what I've seen, the public's opinion of Checketts has shifted as the sale of the Blues has plodded along. As each deadline set by Checketts has come and gone with little fruition, the fan base appears to be growing more and more frustrated with how the sale has been conducted. Would it be wise to give him his old role back now that he has become a seller? Something worth thinking about.
Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Checketts remain on board as a minority investor but I could understand the side that would like to see him depart once a new majority investor is found. If you recall, originally Checketts wanted to remain and find a new majority investor but abandoned that plan believing a new buyer might find the full 100% deal more enticing.
If everything falls into place, it's good to finally get Hulsizer officially involved in the NHL. He was as popular with Coyotes fans as he was with the NHL Board of Governors, and clearly has a desire to get into hockey ownership. It was best for both Hulsizer and the Coyotes that it wasn't through an embarrassment of riches being handed over by taxpayers in Glendale for the team.
No disrespect to the Coyotes as a franchise or Glendale as a market, but there's no question he's traded up with the Blues.
UPDATE: Andy Strickland of TrueHockey.com has a great update on this story, including where Checketts might fit into a Hulsizer ownership. Hint: Not in hockey ops.
I'm told if Hulsizer does purchase the Blues at the number TowerBrook Capital Partners is seeking, the Peabody Opera House would have to be included.
That's where Checketts comes in. There's more than a decent chance Checketts remains on board as the Chairman of the Peabody Opera House but as the far as the business and the hockey side of the organization Hulsizer will have the final vote on all matters.
Regarding the sale to Hulsizer, Strickland writes: "One person with firsthand knowledge of the talks tells me a deal has been conceptually agreed to but that's about it."