The fate of the St. Louis Blues, the team whose owners want to be out of the hockey business, could be determined today at a meeting of the National Hockey League's board of governors in Montreal.
Last week, Ralston Purina, which owns the Blues, had offered the team to the league, to sell or operate. Earlier, the company had filed a $60 million lawsuit against the league, after the board of governors did not approve the sale of the Blues to a Saskatchewan group which intended to move the club to Saskatoon by the 1983-84 season.
A decision on the Blues' situation is expected by Wednesday, when the NHL holds its amateur draft.
League officials declined to speculate on the outcome of today's meeting. They probably will consider several options: the league operating the team, seeking an appropriate buyer, merging the Blues with an existing team or holding a dispersal draft. An emergency meeting of the executive committee was held yesterday to discuss the situation.
Bill Hunter, the Saskatoon businessman who heads the group that made the original offer, is expected to be in Montreal, asking that the league reconsider his plan to buy and move the team.
Two owners of Ontario junior teams also are reportedly interested in purchasing the Blues and keeping them in St. Louis.
Howard Darwin, who owns the London Knights, and Earl Montagano, coowner of the Ottawa 67s, are interested in buying the Blues, according to Brian O'Neill, NHL executive vice president.
"They have said they are interested," O'Neill said yesterday. "They are hoping to meet informally this week. They told me on the phone they would like to make an offer to try to keep the team in St. Louis."
Both men are reportedly in Montreal, but could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Because employes of the Blues have all been dismissed, the team is not represented at this week's draft. The NHL yesterday told Ralston Purina it must conduct the team's drafting or lose all picks in the draft--even though scouts, whose contracts do not expire until after the draft, were told not to proceed until hearing from Ralston Purina.
"We recommended that it (Ralston Purina) participate in the draft in order to preserve its corporate assets," said NHL President John Ziegler, referring to the team's players.