It isn’t dead yet, but the proposed sale of the Carolina Hurricanes to Chuck Greenberg is seemingly on life support.
WRAL’s Jeff Gravley and Chip Alexander of the News and Observer both reported last night that negotiations between Greenberg and Canes owner Peter Karmanos have “hit a snag,” indicating that the deal announced in July for an investment group headed by Greenberg to purchase the Hurricanes may not go through after all. Sources to both reporters indicated that a tweet from a Forbes reporter yesterday saying that the deal was off, however, was inaccurate.
Chip followed up today with a conversation with Karmanos, in which the Canes’ current owner stated his belief that the complication is simply that Greenberg cannot raise the necessary funds to meet the asking price.
“We have a commitment to Chuck and we’re going to see it through,” Karmanos told the newspaper. “And quite frankly I wish he would pick up the phone and say, ‘Geez, you know what, I can’t get it done.’ Because it looks like he can’t get it done.”
Karmanos went on to reiterate his belief that the value of the team continues to increase, and any other potential buyer will need to meet an asking price that will rise in accordance with that increased valuation.
The Hurricanes, according to president Don Waddell, turned a profit last season, and Karmanos has said that he plans to hang around as long as necessary to facilitate a sale of the team, but at age 74 his own future will come into play in the indeterminate future as well.
I know there’s a large, and vocal, group of the Hurricanes fanbase that wants to drag Karmanos over the coals for literally everything that happens at 1400 Edwards Mill Road, but hear me out: he may actually have the best interests of the club at heart here.
Now, to be sure, Karmanos isn’t in this to make the fans happy; he’s in it to make money on his sale of the team. And if Greenberg can’t meet the asking price, then Karmanos, as a good businessman is wont to do, has every right to move onto other suitors.
But think about it for a second: if Karmanos simply wanted out, he’d sell the team to Greenberg - who, again, apparently does not have the financial resources to meet the asking price - for whatever price would get the deal done. That would mean the Hurricanes would be left with an undercapitalized owner who had proven that he was on perilous financial footing.
One false move in that situation and the Hurricanes become Coyotes 2.0, facing bankruptcy or left to become a ward of the state (or, in this case, the NHL). And then what? Who would sign here? Never mind the pipe dreams of Tavaresian free agents being lured here; simply fielding a competitive roster would suddenly become nearly impossible. (In a related story, the Coyotes are still looking for their first win of the season.)
Or, say the NHL doesn’t approve the sale because of Greenberg’s financial situation. Then we’re right back here again, with the added humiliation of having a sale actually rejected by the league.
Karmanos often puts the cart before the horse when speaking to the media, but today in speaking to the N&O he’s right on the money. And it may be an unintended consequence of Karmanos looking out for number one, but if the sale doesn’t go through, this is the next best option for the future of the team. Karmanos won’t hang around forever, but the fact that he’s holding the line and won’t simply take the first legit offer that comes at him should give fans at least a glimmer of hope.