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Checketts sees St. Louis Blues having new owners by start of next season

ST. LOUIS - Blues owner Dave Checketts believes the team will have new ownership by the start of the 2011-12 season.

The Blues, who have been on the market since Checketts announced the team was up for sale in April, saw limited interest from the outset but he said in recent weeks that interest has heated up.

"We expect to have something done by the start of the season. ... We expect to have an orderly sale process. It'll be done by the start of the season," Checketts told reporters on Wednesday evening.

Boston-based Game Plan LLC is conducting the sale of the franchise, just as it did when Checketts and his group SCP Worldwide along with majority investor TowerBrook Capital Partners, L.P. purchased the team for US$153 million in 2006.

"There's a lot of interest and I really think Game Plan is really doing a great job with the people we're working with. There will be a successful conclusion," said Checketts, who also owns Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer and its stadium.

Forbes Magazine valued the Blues at $165 million in their annual report last year. The Blues, the lease to Scottrade Center and the team's AHL affiliate in Peoria, Ill. are all up for sale and could fetch up to $200 million or more.

"The price of an NHL franchise in St. Louis ... in my view is a healthy franchise," Checketts said. "It's a healthy, healthy price because we have a healthy franchise."

Checketts certainly hasn't put any limitations on the Blues' management as they try to improve a hockey club that's made the playoffs once since the 2004-05 lockout and without a playoff victory since April 12, 2004. The Blues didn't go after any of the higher-priced free agents this summer but have brought in veterans Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner, Scott Nichol and Kent Huskins as well as sign their own free agents.

"If fans had a reason to be worried, it would be we hadn't signed T.J. (Oshie), we did nothing at the free agent (signing period)," Checketts said. "That would be a cause of concern. We went out and kept our whole team together. The young talent is back. I think we're solid everywhere. I really feel good about it and we went out and got two guys (Arnott and Langenbrunner) to come into the locker room who have both won Cups. That's what I'm excited about."

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