Report: Two Companies Offer to Buy All NHL Teams

An investment firm and a sports advisory company reportedly made a joint proposal to buy all 30 NHL (search) teams for as much as $3.5 billion.

Bain Capital Partners LLC (search) and Game Plan LLC (search), both based in Boston, made the offer in a 30-minute presentation to NHL owners on Tuesday in New York, the Toronto Star (search) reported Thursday. It said the companies were invited to make their pitch by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bain Capital spokesman Sam Hollander and Collin Vataha of Game Plan both declined to immediately comment Thursday to The Associated Press.

The NHL, which because of its ongoing player lockout recently became the first major North American pro sports league to cancel an entire season, has said its teams have lost a collective $500 million over the past two seasons.

Bain managing partner Steven Pagliuca, co-owner of the NBA's Boston Celtics (search), and Game Plan, which recently acted as an adviser on the sale of the Ottawa Senators (search), are betting that many NHL owners would welcome the chance to get out of the hockey business.

But it's unclear how team owners, especially those in large markets such Toronto, Boston and New York, would react to the proposal. Maple Leafs officials declined comment, the newspaper said, as did a Game Plan spokesman.

NHL executive vice president Bill Daly was cautious in describing the level of interest the proposal received from the governors.

"I'm not going to characterize it," Daly told the Globe and Mail. "I would imagine different clubs had different feelings. The board listened to a presentation and that's about it."

Daly said the league was compelled to listen based on the significance of the offer.

"When someone's offering over $3 billion, we felt we had an obligation to the board to have them, at least, hear it from the proposed purchaser," Daly added.

The purchase would not be dependent on the NHL reaching agreement with the players on a collective bargaining deal, the newspaper said, and a sale would not affect the status of the NHL Players' Association as the bargaining agent for players under U.S. and Canadian labor laws.

According to the newspaper, Bain and Game Plan said the sale would bolster the league's revenue because all the teams would work together to generate more local television, sponsorship and revenue instead of competing against one another.

The consortium reportedly told the NHL owners it had arranged for a large Canadian-based financier to join its efforts.