BLUES EXTRAS

NHL approves Stillman group's bid to buy Blues

2012-05-09T00:30:00Z 2012-07-26T01:59:28Z NHL approves Stillman group's bid to buy BluesBY JEREMY RUTHERFORD • jrutherford@post-dispatch.com > 314-444-7135 stltoday.com

Tom Stillman, a former hockey player at the collegiate level and a regular at the Blues' alumni skates, is about to score the biggest goal of his career — as the club's next owner.

On Tuesday, the NHL's Board of Governors unanimously approved a bid by a group of St. Louis investors that is led by Stillman. The league confirmed the news today. The final step is the closing of the sale, which is scheduled for today.

Stillman, who has been a minority owner of the Blues since 2007, will be introduced at a news conference Thursday at Scottrade Center. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to be on hand.

Stillman's group will become the eighth owner of the Blues since the franchise's inception, following Dave Checketts/SCP Worldwide (2006-present), Bill Laurie (1999-2006), Kiel Center Partners (1991-1999), Mike Shanahan (1986-1991), Harry Ornest (1983-1986), Ralston Purina (1977-1983) and the Salomon family (1966-1977).

Stillman, who is CEO of Summit Distributing in St. Louis, heads a list of local investors that will pay an estimated $130 million for the Blues, the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League and 'significant interest" in the Peabody Opera House. In December, Forbes valued the Blues at $157 million, 27th among 30 NHL teams. The team was purchased in 2006 for $150 million.

The deal will come two years to the month, May 2010, after former Blues chairman Checketts announced that TowerBrook Capital Partners, a private-equity firm that has been the team's top investor since 2006 with a 70-percent stake, said it was divesting its interest.

Checketts, who has said SCP Worldwide had owned 20 percent of the club, attempted to find a group of investors to buy TCP's shares, but those efforts failed.

Meanwhile, Stillman built a group of investors featuring one area dignitary and several prominent local businessmen.

The group includes Stillman's father-in-law, former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo; Steve Maritz, CEO of Maritz Inc.; Donn Lux, CEO of Luxco; and the Taylor family, owners of St. Louis-based Enterprise Holdings. Names of additional investors also are expected to be announced when the sale is made official.

"Local ownership is great if you can put it together," Bettman told the Post-Dispatch in January. "Tom is putting together a group of distinguished people from St. Louis, and if it all comes together, we think fans of the Blues have reason to be very comfortable and excited about the future of the club."

The new owners will name former Blue and Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull to a management position, according to sources.

No other changes to the team's management staff, which includes Blues President John Davidson and general manager Doug Armstrong, are known at this time.

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