Hicks group will explore sale of NHL’s Stars

Tom Hicks, the financially strapped owner of the Dallas Stars,

is exploring a possible sale of the NHL team.

The Hicks Sports Group said Thursday it has retained Galatioto

Sports Partners to look for new investors and explore the idea of

selling a majority stake in the NHL team.

Team president Jeff Cogen said that Hicks has received

“numerous” inquiries about the team, but a sale is not

certain.

“I think the Dallas Stars are a model franchise, kind of the

pride of the NHL relative to the Sun Belt,” Cogen told The

Associated Press. “I would envision that we would be a very

appealing asset for the right person.”

Less than a year after defaulting on $525 million in loans

backed by the Stars and baseball’s Texas Rangers, Hicks has already

agreed to sell the Rangers to a group led by Pittsburgh attorney

Chuck Greenberg. The Rangers sale awaits approval from Major League

Baseball, the NHL and the group of 40 lenders holding debt from the

Hicks group.

Hicks also owns half of Liverpool and British government

officials have expressed concern about the debt load tied up in the

Premier League club.

A spokeswoman for Hicks said the owner was out of the country

and unavailable for comment.

Hicks bought the Stars in 1996 from Norm Green, who had moved

the team from Minneapolis three years earlier. Dallas won the

Stanley Cup in 1999 and went to the finals again the next year.

That run sparked a home sellout streak of more than 200 games while

interest in youth hockey blossomed through several Dallas-area ice

rinks run by the Stars.

But Dallas lost momentum through the NHL’s work stoppage in

2004-05 and had less playoff success. The Stars have made it out of

the first round just once in the past five seasons. Home sellouts

that used to be certain are now rare, and they are in danger of

missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time

since moving to Dallas.

Cogen, though, said the “body of work” makes the Stars

attractive, as does a collection of young talent that’s growing as

the career of franchise icon Mike Modano winds down.

“Sure, Stanley Cup finalists has a certain appeal to it, but I

don’t want to minimize the appeal of the Dallas Stars,” Cogen

said. “This team is poised for great success. Couple that with our

history and the building and the market … I think it’s a

win.”