Sports Outside the Beltway

Are the Florida Panthers for sale?

The Globe and Mail reports a group is interested in merging with the parent company that owns the South Florida hockey team.

A company that spurned overtures from the Phoenix Coyotes is negotiating to invest in another financially shaky NHL team: the Florida Panthers.

Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., controlled by New York financier Andrew Murstein and high-profile former U.S. politicians Mario Cuomo and Jack Kemp, is talking to the team’s chairman and general partner Alan Cohen about merging with the Panthers’ parent company (Sunrise Sports & Entertainment), according to sources quoted by the Sports Business Daily.

NHL sources told The Globe and Mail that Murstein, who once tried to buy the Anaheim Ducks, has been making inquiries about the Panthers for several weeks. The Sports Properties vice-chairman was trying to ascertain if the team, which has not made the NHL playoffs for nine years and narrowly missed them this year, was on the rise.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how true this news is. The article’s author got several ‘no comment’ replies.

A new owner for the Panthers might cause the franchise to finally become serious about winning in the NHL. Something the current owner Alan Cohen has rarely displayed. He allowed Panther management to trade Roberto Luongo, and Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is likely not to be back as a Florida Panther.(He’s a unrestricted free agent)s These players are arguably the best at their position in the NHL but team ownership wouldn’t ante up to meet their salary demands. Florida’s lack of playoff appearances over the last nine years can’t totally be attributed to a lack of talent.

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