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Duck Talks Involve Pond

October 28, 2004|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Howard Baldwin and officials from the Arrowhead Pond met Wednesday to discuss a possible partnership should Baldwin buy the Mighty Ducks, a source familiar with the sale of the team said.

The discussion included the possibility of Broadcom Chairman Henry Samueli, whose company runs the Pond for the City of Anaheim, joining the group that is attempting to purchase the Ducks from the Walt Disney Co.

Baldwin's group has made a $50-million offer for the team.

"We had a constructive day, but it is a process," said Baldwin, who previously owned the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hartford Whalers and Minnesota North Stars. "They are terrific people and I enjoyed the meeting. It was a chance to see how they feel."

Baldwin has also already discussed purchasing the Ducks with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. He has not, however, made official inquiries with the league.

Samueli's joining the group could help make the Pond more profitable. The Ducks' lease gives the team money that would normally go to the arena management.

Pond officials were unavailable for comment.

Baldwin has had informal talks with Disney officials, according to a source. He has not officially reviewed the team's financial situation.

His efforts to buy the team may hinge on Disney officials being willing to sell for less than a market price. The value of all NHL teams, however, is in flux because of labor trouble. The owners locked out the players on Sept. 15 and are seeking a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a salary cap.

Disney has had the team on the market for more than three years but has received only cursory interest. Potential buyers have been reluctant to jump into a league whose teams have suffered severe financial losses in recent seasons.

Baldwin, 62, has an extensive history with the NHL. He founded the Whalers and served as managing general partner of the franchise for 17 years. His time as the Penguins' owner was marked by the team's going into bankruptcy in 1998. He was also part owner of the North Stars.

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