The greatest hockey player ever is teaming with two of the sport's most iconic local faces in an attempt to buy the Dallas Stars, according to two sources familiar with the organization's current business landscape. With long-time owner Tom Hicks intent on selling the team, a group led by Wayne Gretzky, Mike Modano and Brett Hull has emerged as a serious bidder.
"It's nothing formal, as if they're about to sign on the dotted line," says one source. "But it's gone past kicking the tires. This could happen."
Update: Modano says he's yet to have any talks with Gretzky. I still say the group, at some point, will be a serious bidder for the team. Stay tuned.
Gretzky, widely considered the greatest player to ever lace up a pair of skates, recently sold his minority stake in the Phoenix Coyotes when the NHL bought the team as part of the franchise's bankruptcy re-organization. After two seasons as co-general manager of the Stars, Hull is currently the team's executive vice president. Modano, meanwhile, is in the twilight of his 16-year career in Dallas. The all-time leading scorer and face of the franchise since its move here from Minnesota in 1993, Modano will likely retire after this season.
His final game at American Airlines Center is Thursday night.
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Since winning the Stanley Cup in 1999, the Stars under Hicks have suffered a gradual but significant decline in attendance, TV ratings and relevancy. This year's disappointing team was officially eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend.
Hicks, beset by a professional financial crisis, hired Galatioto Sports Partners to search for new owners for the Stars. He has said he is willing to sell his majority stake in the team.
It is not clear who else is involved in the group's bid and it's too early in the process to have developed an ownership structure. It is certain, however, that the Gretzky group would keep the Stars in Dallas.
The proceedings won't begin in earnest until Hicks' sale of the Texas Rangers is completed. Incoming Rangers' owner Chuck Greenberg said last week he expects the deal to be finalized the week of April 19.