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THN.com Blog: Bill Guerin retires and NHL ownership

Bill Guerin scored 429 goals and 856 points in 1,263 career NHL games. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Bill Guerin scored 429 goals and 856 points in 1,263 career NHL games. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Some Monday musings for your dining and dancing pleasure:

GUERIN HANGS ‘EM UP

He probably didn’t have a choice, but it was great to see Bill Guerin do the right thing by announcing his retirement from the NHL after 18 seasons.

So ends a very good NHL career that includes Stanley Cups and an Olympic medal and, as is so often not the case, it ends on a positive note. Guerin scored a respectable 21 goals and 45 points with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, but anyone who watched him closely would acknowledge there were too many holes in his game for him to be an impact player.

All you need to know is the Penguins had first dibs on him and could have had him for a very low price. This season, Pittsburgh’s highest-scoring non-center is Chris Kunitz with seven goals and 15 points. Only three teams in the NHL have a less productive highest scorer on the wing. The fact the Penguins chose not to sign Guerin either in the off-season or once the campaign started should speak volumes about how they feel he can continue to contribute at the age of 40.

Guerin has made almost $52 million over the course of his career, so what exactly was he going to prove by playing this season for another million bucks? Probably not a lot. Given the decline in his game and how so many players refuse to acknowledge their time is up and embarrass themselves by continuing to play, kudos to Guerin for realizing that himself.

TAX ISSUES WITH SABRES SALE

There’s probably nobody in the United States hoping George Bush’s tax cuts for the rich are extended beyond Jan. 1 more than soon-to-be former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano.

The Senate and House of Representatives are currently wrestling with the tax cuts issue, which will come to a head when Bush-era tax cuts are due to take effect Jan. 1. There is a possibility they will be extended beyond that period, but the Democrats and Republicans have yet to agree on how it will be implemented. The Democrats currently control both the Senate and House of Representatives, but the House will come under Republican control in January.

This is all of great interest to Golisano, who is currently considering selling the Sabres to Pennsylvania billionaire Terry Pegula. According to sources, Pegula has signed a letter of intent to buy the Sabres. That doesn’t mean he will purchase the team – it simply means he has exclusive negotiating rights with Golisano and has the right to examine Buffalo’s financial picture before making a commitment.

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Part of the tax plan has to do with capital gains. Under the Bush-era tax cuts plan, Golisano would have to pay only about 15 percent federal taxes on the money he makes from the sale of the Sabres. If the tax cuts ended, he would owe somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 percent in capital gains tax.

So it probably behooves Golisano to get this done as early as possible. That’s why there could be an announcement on this before Dec. 31.

MORE SALE MUSINGS

Speaking of ownership changes, there are varying reports on the possibility of the majority stake of the Toronto Maple Leafs being for sale, but there is little doubt the Rogers Communications empire is very interested in buying.

That majority stake, which makes up 66 percent of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, is currently owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, one of the richest pension plans in the world. The problem, some say, is the teachers realize there’s a good chance they won’t be able to get a better return on their investment than the one they get with the Maple Leafs.

The pension plan uses that cash to buy up other companies and strengthen its portfolio and while $1.3 billion in cash would certainly fill the coffers, what if that money is in turn invested into an enterprise that gives a far less favorable return than the Maple Leafs?

If anything, the Maple Leafs have proved to be completely recession proof when it comes to making money. There are not many companies that can make the same claim. The revenue sources may have maxed out with the Leafs, but a guaranteed 30 percent return on your investment is not something that simply presents itself every day.

Would you want to be the guy who takes the risk to sell the stake in one of the most profitable and stable companies imaginable?

Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear every Monday throughout the season.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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