washingtonpost.com  > Sports > Leagues and Sports > NHL

Group Offers Over $3 Billion for NHL

Friday, March 4, 2005; Page D02

Two Boston companies have offered NHL owners a way out of their labor woes: Sell the entire league -- pucks, Penguins and penalty boxes -- for more than $3 billion.

Bain Capital Partners LLC and Game Plan LLC made the proposal on Tuesday in New York, where NHL owners were meeting to discuss their next step in the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season. The offer received an icy welcome.

The NHL erased the 2005 Stanley Cup when it canceled the season; now, two companies want to buy the league. (Dan Loh -- AP)

_____ From The Post _____
Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky take part in six-hour meeting between NHL and players' union but no deal is reached.
Commissioner Gary Bettman officially cancels the NHL season.
There is speculation about where the league goes from here and whether it can survive.
Michael Wilbon: There's no question the league and its owners won this particular battle.
The cancellation may work to the Capitals' advantage in time.
Q&A: What's next?

_____ On Our Site _____
Audio: The Post's Thomas Heath discusses the end of the season.
Video: Bettman announces the cancellation of the season.
What's Your Opinion?

_____ Lockout At a Glance _____
NO SEASON: The NHL season was canceled Feb. 16 over a lockout that started before training camps opened last September. It's the first major North American sport to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.
THE REASON: The NHL and the players' association couldn't resolve how to split revenues from the $2 billion industry. The league demanded a salary cap, but by the time the players agreed to that, it was too late to work out how much the cap would be.
WHAT'S NEXT?: The NHL could seek the declaration of an impasse, which allowing it to implement its last offer, open training camps in September and invite players back. The players' association would likely respond with a strike.

_____NHL Basics_____
Team index
NHL Section
_____Bruins Basics_____
Bruins Page

"I don't think it's realistic, and I don't think there's much interest, and I know there's no interest on the part of the Bruins," said Jeremy Jacobs, whose Delaware North Co. owns the Boston team, its building, part of its TV broadcasts and the concession contracts for several NHL clubs. "And I think it takes 30 [team owners] to do it."

The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail reported yesterday that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman invited the two companies to present the offer. If accepted, the league would become a single entity, an ownership structure where most decisions are dictated by the central office.

Sports leagues structured in that way -- including Major League Soccer and the WNBA -- have avoided antitrust scrutiny in the courts, and that can translate into greater power in labor negotiations. But it has never been tried with a borderline major league with a strong union, and smaller single entities such as the XFL and the WUSA have failed.

Steve Ross, a sports law professor at the University of Illinois Law School, said courts would want to examine whether the new arrangement stifled competition.

Before the work stoppage, the total value of the 30 NHL franchises was estimated by Forbes Magazine at $4.9 billion.

-- From News Services

© 2005 The Washington Post Company