A New Player Surfaces in Sale of the St. Louis Blues

By Jeff Quirin
NHLHS Associate Editor and St. Louis Blues Correspondent

Only two names were previously known to show legitimate interestin in purchasing the St. Louis Blues. Current minority owner Tom Stillman and former Phoenix Coyotes suitor Matthew Hulsizer. A report filed Wednesday by St. Louis Post Dispatch beat writer Jeremy Rutherford brings the total to three.

Citing sources close to the process, Rutherford names a Canadian businessman and a retired NHL star as the latest coming to kick the tires.

Max Chambers, a Calgary businessman who was once interested in purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes, has been in discussions with Blues’ ownership recently, a source close to the situation told the Post-Dispatch.

The front man for Chambers’ group is former NHL standout Bryan Trottier, who played 18 seasons in the league and won the Stanley Cup six times as a player and one as an assistant coach.

Chambers entered the picture in the “last few weeks,” the source said, and he has “all the financing in place that would allow him to proceed quickly.”

Proceed quickly the scenario must if Game Plan LLC’s, the firm hired by principal owner Dave Checketts to manage the sale process, projected resolution time frame is to be met. Robert Caporale, chairman of Game Plan, has referenced the start of the NHL season as a likely resolution date multiple times during the off season.

The Blues as well as their AHL affiliate Peoria Rivermen and the Scottrade Center lease are available. Checketts’ newly renovated and soon to open Peabody Opera House has also been rumored, and denied, to be a part of a package which has sat on the open market with an asking price in the $180 to $200 million range since March 16th.

Game Plan set an August 22nd date for formal bids to be submitted. Reports indicate that multiple bids were received, but only Stillman was confirmed as one who met the deadline. It also appears that Hulsizer didn’t send in formal paperwork for the deadline, but remains very much in the mix.

As Rutherford states, there is little information on Chambers to be found. At least besides a reference in a Toronto Globe and Mail article the only reference found was in regards to the “new” WHA.

The old World Hockey Association (WHA) merged into the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1979. But in 2003, Allan Howell and Dr. Nick Vaccaro announced the formation of the new World Hockey Association. Former WHA star Bobby Hull (the first major star to play in the old WHA) is its commissioner.

On June 21, 2004, David Waronker, owner of the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Orlando Seals and Jacksonville Barracudas, cancelled transferal of ownership to Calgary businessman Max Chambers because Waronker had not heard from Chambers since signing a letter of intent, before June 2, when a deadline for submission of $100,000 was not made.

While, the validity of the information in said link seems questionable, there is an old USA Today article referencing the league’s 2004 draft and a Wikipedia page for the defunct minor pro league.

There is no need to jump to conclusions based off of one “example”, but a failed transfer of ownership under his belt is incapable of looking good. The opposite is true when a former NHL scoring star, league MVP, playoff MVP and seven time Stanley Cup champion is the face of your effort.

For those too young to remember, Brian Trottier was selected by the New York Islanders 22nd overall at the 1974 draft. Through 1,279 games he amassed 524 goals and 1,425 points. He won four Stanley Cups with the Islanders between 1980 and 1983. His last two as a player came in 91-92 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He won number seven as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche. In 1976 he won the Calder and in 1979 he won the Hart and Art Ross. In the Islanders first cup victory he was awarded the Conn Smyth.

The important of Trottier’s financial impact is unknown, but he brings an above average level of hockey “street cred” to the potential ownership group. Much the way that current team President John Davidson has for the last six years.

Amid news of the Dallas Stars filing for bankruptcy and the New Jersey Devils likely heading down the same path there is some concern that the Blues will be the next to go that route. Hopefully by the next Board of Governors meeting on September 20th a purchase agreement is ready for league approval and avoid an ever deeper mess.