March 16, 2011
"I don't know if we'll have it done it time for the (NHL) All-Star break (Jan. 30), but that would be a worthwhile goal to be talking to the league about our investor group and having them do all of their background work around the All-Star break, or maybe even a little bit later in February. But this is going to happen in the next couple of months." — Dave Checketts, St. Louis Blues chairman, Dec. 30, 2010.
Yeah, about that. Checketts announced on Wednesday that the team, its AHL affiliate and Scottrade Center are for sale after attempts to broker a deal with majority owners TowerBrook Capital Partners and new investors didn't materialize.
As Norm Sanders wrote in the News-Democrat, the 'for sale' sign creates some uncertainty for hockey operations:
The contract of current Blues President John Davidson is up after this year, the team's payroll was at the lower end of the NHL salary cap and decisions have to be made moving forward on contracts for current and potential players for the 2011-12 season.
During his press conference today, Checketts addressed those issues, beginning with Davidson's contract (via Post Dispatch):
"We still plan on proceeding down that road because ... out of my loyalty and allegiance to the guys ...but you know when you sell a package to someone, it really is up to them. I'll be as loyal and keep this management team as firmly in place as I can, considering the circumstances."
As for what Blues fans can expect during the sale process: Will it have an effect on the way GM Doug Armstrong operates the team?
"I don't think it does. We haven't had those conversations in terms of what that means and what the payroll and what the budgets are. We wouldn't have had them at this point in other season either. We've got some games left to play. I expect our guys to play very hard and work hard and do their best the rest of the way. I don't expect anything less and I don't we will get anything less.
"At that point, after our general manager and our coach does the exit interviews, we'll sit down and talk about the needs of the hockey club are, and we'll develop a plan. Sale or no sale, we're going to keep operating this team the way we have."
You buy that? According to Cap Geek, the Blues have $33.7 million committed against the cap next season, with T.J. Oshie(notes) and Patrik Berglund(notes) among a half-dozen restricted free agents. Beyond that, how much will they sink into player acquisitions, considering Checketts said there aren't any viable buyers on the radar now?
When he departs, Checketts won't leave a winning legacy behind in St. Louis but he will leave a legacy, having helped lead an aggressive courtship of disillusioned Blues fans that has St. Louis ninth in tickets distributed per game this season. (He also unleashed the Palin Curse on the franchise, but they all can't be home runs.) Now comes perhaps the most important act of his chairmanship: Finding his successor.