Who will get the C in Ottawa?

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The Canadian Who Wants to Buy The Coyotes

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The Canadian Who Wants to Buy The Coyotes

Post by davetherave on Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:10 pm

Montreal magnate Steve Stotland once thought he'd bought the Canadiens. Now he's ready to buy the Coyotes. His story, from The Gazette:

NHL mystery man eyed Habs

'I want it': Snowdon-born Steve Stotland leading bid to buy Coyotes

Stephanie Myles, The Montreal Gazette, November 27, 2009

The best day of Steve Stotland's business and sports life was Dec. 5, 2000 - the day he thought he and his partner had acquired the fabled Canadiens.

The worst days came after that, when the franchise ended up going to George Gillett.

But if a mountain man from Colorado can come to Montreal and be an exemplary NHL owner, why can't a Montrealer go to the Arizona desert and do the same?

Stotland says that the Phoenix Coyotes are a worthy consolation prize.

The energetic 61-year-old Westmount man, born and raised in Snowdon and a lifelong hockey fan, is the mystery man leading a group of Phoenix interests in a bid to buy the downtrodden hockey franchise, currently owned by the league.

"Nobody wanted (the Canadiens) in 2000 except me and (partner) Jon Ledecky," Stotland said yesterday.

"They were losing $14 million, the arena was at 70-per-cent capacity, the team was in fifth or sixth place, not competitive, and the dollar was at $1.60. Everybody initially said: 'Aw, here comes the cowboy.' But look at what (Gillett) did," Stotland said in an interview with The Gazette.

"Isn't this a similar situation? This team, nobody wants it. But I want it," he added. "George walks in from Denver, and so Stotland is walking in from Montreal."

It has long been a dream for Stotland - who built his fortune in the office-supplies business and, more recently, in mergers and acquisitions - to own an NHL team.

He made a second pass at the Canadiens when Gillett sold the team to a consortium led by the Molson family. And he tried - twice - to buy the CFL's Toronto Argonauts.

He sees the Coyotes, whose recent headlines are all off the ice, not on, as potentially a great turnaround story.

The major upside is that it's an opportunity to own an NHL franchise at a great price.

Stotland would be a minority owner with a 15-per-cent stake; a small mix of high-net-worth individuals and corporations from the Phoenix area would hold the rest.

And there's no need to spend up to $300 million for a new arena; the Coyotes' facility in Glendale is 5 years old and remains state of the art, with some of the best sightlines in the game.

The huge downside is that the franchise could lose $40 million or $50 million this year alone. And that's why the reaction since the news of Stotland's bid broke in the Globe and Mail this week has been along these lines: He's a fool or foolhardy - or both.

He's getting a good laugh out of it. "I have to be optimistic. My middle name is optimism. I get up every morning and the glass is half-full. Even if it's half-empty, I fake it - life's too short,"
Stotland said. "I think I'm a salesman - I put people together, and I try to make things happen."

Stotland has been around the block often enough to wear no rose-coloured glasses. In other words, he says he's not letting his lifelong dream cloud his business judgment.

He sincerely believes that with the right local ownership, properly financed, with an immediate increase in payroll that would add two franchise-type forwards and make the team highly competitive, the fans will come back.

He points to the huge influx of snowbirds to Arizona during the season, most of them from hockey country, and the fact that the Phoenix/

Glendale area is the fourth- or fifth-fastest-growing area in the U.S., as positive points.

"This is not an ego thing. We want to make this a profitable business, with a competitive team on the ice. I'm not going into this to lose a cent - this is not a charity," he said.

Stotland is a skier, but his hockey roots go back a long way. He was in the hockey camp business back in the 1970s with Yvan Cournoyer and Jacques Lemaire at what is now John Abbott College; current Canadiens GM Bob Gainey worked for him in the summers. He also partnered with Cournoyer to build the former Hab's popular Lachine brasserie.

He wants to take his love of the game, his passion, mix it with Phoenix money and turn a desperate situation around. Stotland says the Coyotes could break even in two years; he's willing to give it his all for at least four or five years before even uttering that dreaded "R" word: relocation.

"I have the energy and the momentum and the fire to do something. ... I would say the chances are 90 per cent, 80 per cent (of being the winning bid)," he said. "I'm in there, or I wouldn't be talking to you, flying back and forth, on the phone with my people (in Arizona) three or four times a day, and wasting my time.

"This is for real. I'm for real."



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Re: The Canadian Who Wants to Buy The Coyotes

Post by wprager on Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:56 am

I've never been to Phoenix but where do the "snow birds" come from?

Hey, I don't have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I've failed as much as I have succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life. And I wish you my kind of success.
- Dicky Fox


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Re: The Canadian Who Wants to Buy The Coyotes

Post by davetherave on Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:55 pm

If Stotland is successful in his purchase and his turnaround strategy, the NHL and the NHLPA may move towards the next step...expanding the league to 32 teams with franchises in Quebec City and Seattle.


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