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Offer to buy whole league wild and impossible

By TOM JONES
Published March 6, 2005


This just in. Donald Trump wants to buy the NHL, divide it into two conferences and let The Apprentice contestants run each one for a future episode.

And Pepsi wants to buy the NHL; you might win a team if their nickname is under your next bottle cap.

Wait, this also just in. Apple is going to buy the NHL and offer a new promotion: buy an iPod, download Rock & Roll, Pt. 2 and get a free NHL team.

As if the NHL had not already turned humorous and surreal, a report came out last week that the league listened to someone trying to buy it. Bain Capital Partners LLC and Game Plan LLC offered between $3-billion and $3.5-billion for everything - every team, every puck, every stick, every Jagr.

Let's settle this once and for all: It's not going to happen.

"Nothing will come of it," Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said. "It takes a 30-zip vote to do what is being sought. I know there are not 30 votes. It'll never happen."

For starters, it doesn't make sense for most teams. The offer would mean $100-million to $117-million a team. Teams such as the Red Wings and Rangers are believed to be worth more than $250-million. Even if the league took the offer and split the pie accordingly, there would not be enough to pay the teams worth the most.

In other words, there are more teams worth more - a lot more - than $117-million than teams worth less than that.

Plus, remember: Most owners use hockey as a toy. It's not their main business. The NHL is about fun for those owners, not money.

That's not to say some teams wouldn't be interested. Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, for example, might be interested in any deal that allows him to recoup his money. The owners of the Oilers have been crying about money. A few others too. But that's not to say those teams are interested either.

"I didn't really give the offer a second thought," Panthers owner Alan Cohen said. "I am sure that the league will prevail in its quest for fiscal sanity."

But you have to hand it to Steve Pagliuca, Bain's managing director who came up with the scheme. And it's believed the group's first offer might not be their best, that it might be willing to offer more.

"I really don't know if it's a viable scheme or plausible," Calgary president and CEO Ken King said, "but I sure credit them for their creativity. Creative and interesting."

Creative? Yes. Interesting? Definitely. Will it happen? Not a chance.

ICE CHIPS: Flyers star Jeremy Roenick publicly apologized last week for questioning the union's leadership and said he fully supports union chief Bob Goodenow. ... Goalie Dominik Hasek said he plans to retire this summer if the labor dispute isn't resolved. ... The Flames are the latest team to cut staff because of the lockout. The Calgary Sun reports the Flames trimmed their staff from about 140 to around 95. Meantime, the Wild, one of the most profitable franchises the past four years, is down to a skeleton staff. ... East Coast Hockey League commissioner Brian McKenna said he expects as many as 15 NHL players to join the ECHL. The league already includes NHL players Bates Battaglia, Scott Gomez and Dave Karpa.

Information from other news organizations was used in this report.