Stars sold to Canadian businessman

A Canadian businessman with Texas roots and lifelong love of hockey has purchased the Dallas Stars.

The Stars said Tom Gaglardi, president of Northland Properties Corp., will be introduced Monday at a news conference as the team’s new owner. Terms were not disclosed Friday, after the NHL board of governors unanimously approved the deal. The Stars had signed an agreement in September to sell the team to the Vancouver businessman.

Gaglardi said Jim Lites will return as the team’s president and CEO. He has held the position twice previously.

”I know the fans and the organization are relieved that this period of uncertainty is over,” said Gaglardi. ”The team has established a solid foundation, and I am looking forward to working with Jim Lites and Joe Nieuwendyk, who I have always admired and think is doing a superb job, to re-ignite fan enthusiasm for this club.”

Gaglardi, 43, is president of a family-owned hospitality company. He has a hockey background, having played since he was 5 and continuing to play on a competitive Canadian team. He also has Texas ties. His mother is a native of Longview and he said he has ”serious UT relatives” who live west of Fort Worth.

During Lites’ two previous stints with the team, the Stars won seven division championships, two Western Conference championships, two Presidents’ Trophies and the 1999 Stanley Cup. Lites, 58, also served 11 years as the chief operating officer of the Detroit Red Wings.

”Jim Lites is the right guy at the right time to reposition and lead the franchise forward,” Gaglardi said. ”I like his vision, resilience, marketing expertise and his total energy for this job, and he and I share a huge love of this game."

The Stars filed a prepackaged bankruptcy plan to help facilitate Gaglardi’s purchase of the club.

The Stars, like the Texas Rangers, were once owned by Tom Hicks. He bought the NHL team for $84 million in December 1995, but ran into financial problems.

The Rangers’ sale was stalled for months by creditors’ concerns over Hicks’ financially strapped ownership group. The team was eventually put up for a court auction, in which a group led by Nolan Ryan outbid Jim Crane and Mark Cuban and finally got the team nine months after entering into exclusive negotiations with Hicks.

By contrast, the Stars’ deal with Gaglardi moved swiftly to conclusion. The team said its prepackaged plan was the result of negotiations involving input from the league and the team’s senior secured lenders.