Devils, Stars both facing bankruptcy

A decade ago, the NHL’s Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils met in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Soon the teams could meet again, this time in the bankruptcy court, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Press reports this week indicate both the Stars and the Devils are mulling Chapter 11 filings to sort out their financial headaches.

On Monday, the New York Post reported the Devils missed an interest payment and may be forced into bankruptcy. The Devils denied the report, saying the team is working on refinancing its debt.

The Devils, however, are hampered by feuding owners who are having trouble attracting new investors for the team. The Devils have also long struggled to fill seats despite having more on-ice success the past 15 seasons than their more popular neighbors across the Hudson River, the New York Rangers.

The Stars have a new owner in waiting — Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi — but appear likely to need bankruptcy to execute the sale of the team out from under current owner Tom Hicks’ crumbling sports empire, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

Hicks took on millions in debt through an entity that controlled his sports franchises, making the teams difficult to sell on the open market. Last year, he sold his former baseball team, the Texas Rangers, in a bankruptcy court auction.

Gaglardi would likely serve as the lead bidder at an auction for the Stars should the team file for bankruptcy.

The potential for dual bankruptcies is a major fall from grace for two franchises that were the class of the NHL not long ago.

When the teams faced off in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals, the Stars were the defending champions and a flag bearer for the league’s strategy to bring hockey to nontraditional markets such as Dallas. The Stars regularly packed the old Reunion Arena with Texas hockey fans cheering for flashy forwards Mike Modano and Brett Hull.

The Devils, for their part, won three Stanley Cups from 1995 to 2003, including that series with the Stars. Much maligned for most of its existence — arriving in northern New Jersey after flaming out in Kansas City and Denver — the Devils franchise became celebrated as one of the league’s toughest teams. Those 1990s and 2000s squads were led by defenseman Scott Stevens, who often flattened opposing skaters with filling-jarring body checks.

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