By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports EditorTom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, now is the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and 50 per cent of the facility in which they play, American Airlines Center.
Gaglardi, 43, has been in pursuit of the NHL franchise for two years. The NHL’s board of governors announced that the sale had been completed after a U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware approved the sale.
Gaglardi has refused to comment on the sale. He will be introduced as the new owner at a news conference in Dallas on Monday.
It has been reported that Gaglardi bid US$267 million to purchase the franchise out of bankruptcy.
Gaglardi is president of Northland Properties Corp., a Vancouver-based business that owns, among other businesses, Sandman Hotels, Denny’s Restaurants and Moxie’s Restaurants.
According to court documents, the Stars lost $37.9 million last season and $91.5 million over the previous three seasons. Losses this season are projected at more than $30 million.
According to figures compiled by espn.go.com, the Stars are last in attendance in the 30-team NHL. Their average attendance through eight games is 10,023. They play in an 18,500-seat arena, half of which is owned by Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA-champion Dallas Mavericks.
Gaglardi, whose mother is from Longview, Texas, did confirm Friday that he has hired Jim Lites as president and chief executive officer.
“Jim Lites is the right guy at the right time to reposition and lead the franchise forward,” Gaglardi said in a statement. “I like his vision, resilience, marketing expertise and his total energy for this job, and he and I share a huge love of this game.”
Lites, 58, had two previous stints as the Stars’ president and CEO. They won the Stanley Cup in 1999 while he was a member of the front office.
Lites also spent 11 seasons as the Detroit Red Wings’ chief operating officer.
Lites told Mark Stepneski of ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth that he began talking with Gaglardi about returning to the Stars on the night the NHL season opened.
“It was pretty rocky,” Lites told Stepneski, referring to his first meeting with Gaglardi. “He was pretty rough on me, as he should. I remember telling my wife that we shouldn’t quit our day jobs. But the feedback was really good and I spent a lot of hours communicating with Tom via text and email, and then he brought me to Vancouver two or three weeks ago and we spent a couple days together.”
On the ice, the Stars lost 3-0 to the host Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, their fourth straight setback. The Stars are at home to the San Jose Sharks tonight.
This was Gaglardi’s second attempt to purchase an NHL franchise.
In November of 2003 Gaglardi was part of a group along with Ryan Beedie and Francesco Aquilini that was interested in purchasing the Vancouver Canucks.
Aquilini left the group and purchased the franchise in 2004. That resulted in Gaglardi and Beedie filing a lawsuit against Aquilini, saying he had gone behind their backs.
The courts ruled in Aquilini’s favour.
— With files from Canadian Press
Taking Note on Twitter