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Reports: Progress being made in Dallas Stars sale?

Feb 16, 2011, 8:16 PM EDT

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James Neal, Loui Eriksson, Brad Richards

Earlier today, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the outlook for the sale of the Dallas Stars has improved to the point that “all parties involved (including the NHL) have an agreement in price.” Stars beat writer Mike Heika refuted those claims – though not necessarily the overall hint of optimism regarding the sale – writing that one source said that the rumor of an agreed-upon price “just isn’t true.”

While the lack of a concrete price might be a disappointment to Stars fans amid the team’s slump and the worries of losing crucial offensive catalyst Brad Richards to free agency, it’s important to again note that Heika’s report was still positive.

Heika passed along information from unnamed sources who said that “activity around the sale of the team is high” and “the buyers are getting much more serious about the price that the lenders are seeking, but that a deal is not close at this time.”

He then goes on to explain how the Stars sale could be similar and different from how the Texas Rangers’ situation was handled.

If you study the Texas Rangers sale, I just think the lenders will eventually try to create an auction situation. They can’t do that in an organized bankruptcy (like they did with the Rangers), because the NHL doesn’t want to go into bankruptcy court, and because the split ownership of American Airlines Center with the Mavericks creates all sorts of complications in bankruptcy. However, there are several buyers who have put a lot of time and due diligence into this process, and they all want their shot in the end to at least be considered serious buyers.

The lenders’ strategy in this process has been that the economy would improve and that the ability to get more money would increase, and that appears to be what is happening. But as old buyers and new buyers get more serious, it would seem logical that the lenders will want those buyers to battle for the right to get the team. Now, could this backfire and all buyers back off (as they did earlier)? Sure. Just as easily, one buyer could put up a big number right now and keep an auction from ever getting started. In the end, the lenders would rather not fund losses for the rest of this season.

Putting aside their recent hiccups, the Stars have been surprisingly successful this season. It’s been a shame to watch a winning (and far more offensively aggressive) team play in front of such paltry crowds during most Dallas home games. Hopefully the team will settle its ownership situation, make a run for the playoffs and manage to retain Richards for the future.

Even most non-Stars fans should be able to admit that it would be a shame to see the Richards-Loui Eriksson-James Neal line split up at its peak, so hopefully the team can sort out its behind the scenes issues in time.

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