Art Kaminsky, a New York-based agent who represents a number of NHL players and coaches, confirmed yesterday that he is working with a group of potential investors who are interested in purchasing the Capitals and keeping the team in Washington.
Kaminsky said he has been attempting to find buyers for the Capitals for "quite awhile, mostly because it's very important for the NHL to stay in Washington.
"I have, over nine months, talked to several groups interested in buying the Capitals. My efforts are directed toward keeping the team in Washington."
Kaminsky said that there is one group in particular, based in New York, that is interested in acquiring the team, a group that has "done the most work on it," but he declined to discuss any details.
Several NHL sources have indicated that Gary Green, former Capitals coach, may be among those trying to buy the team, but Green refused to confirm such reports when reached by telephone on Sunday. He was not available to comment yesterday.
Kaminsky said that Green was not involved in the group of New York-based businessmen interested in acquiring the Capitals. "In the first place, Gary doesn't have any serious money, and in the second place, no," Kaminsky said, adding that his group has "no hockey types. They're not hockey people. They're primarily business types who are particularly concerned with anonymity right now."
At least one other group of potential investors is believed to be based in St. Louis, but no particulars could be determined.
Abe Pollin, team owner, did not return phone calls yesterday. Two weeks ago, Pollin admitted he was seeking investors for the team, and that his first preference was to keep the team here.
Last week, Peter O'Malley, the team's legal counsel, said economic pressures could force Pollin to consider alternate solutions to his team's financial drain, and indicated that the team could be sold and moved out of town.
According to Kaminsky, a major barrier to a quick and easy sale of the Capitals is the team's balance sheet. The Capitals lost an estimated $3 million last season, and an eight-year total of nearly $20 million, while never reaching the NHL playoffs.
"Any businessman who buys something that's lost money for eight years has to be concerned. And these are good cautious businessmen," Kaminsky said. "Too often people who buy sports franchises are out on a limb."
Kaminsky said he could not say how much Pollin is asking for the team, but added that "he's fair. Abe is always fair."
Asked whether the potential buyers would go into partnership with Pollin, or purchase the team outright, Kaminsky said, "It could take a lot of forms. But I don't think it would be inappropriate to say the people who'd be most interested in the team would want total control."
Kaminsky would not discuss a time frame for his group's hoped-for purchase of the Capitals. "I don't know anyone who's made a solid offer yet," he said. "But I am hoping that within the next week or so, things will be happening."
Kaminsky says he believes the team will remain in Washington. "For this to be a successful franchise, all Washington has to do is do a few things right," he said.
"There is enormous untapped cable TV potential, it's in an affluent city, it's got a great suburban location. Everything is right there," he said. "Bill Torrey (Islanders general manager) would give his eyeteeth for a building that size (Capital Centre seats 18,130, Nassau Coliseum holds 15,160). The extra 3,000 seats could mean several million dollars a year for the Islanders. The potential is there (in Washington) and that's what we've been trying to sell."
However, Kaminsky added that "people have to be prepared to lose a couple bucks for a few years (with this team) but the turnaround could come quickly."