A former college hockey player who says he's been a Blues fan since moving to St. Louis 20 years ago is the new lead owner of the franchise.
The St. Louis Blues officially unveiled Tom Stillman, the chairman and CEO of Summit Distributors, on Thursday. The National Hockey League approved the sale on Tuesday, and the deal closed on Wednesday.
"It's really not a dream come true, because I couldn't have dreamed this," Stillman said. "I have loved the game of hockey since I was playing it as a little boy. Over the last several years I've come to know and respect the tremendous people that are in and around of the Blues organization, and to become fond of many of them. To have the opportunity to lead the Blues organization, to be a steward of its history, its present and its future, that is way beyond my wildest dreams. It's an honor and a duty that I take very seriously, as will the rest of our group."
The ownership group, which Stillman says is "100 percent local and 100 percent committed," includes Tom Schlafly, former Sen. Jack Danforth (Stillman's father-in-law), Steve Maritz, and Andy Taylor, who owns Enterprise Holdings.
"We do intend to win a Stanley Cup for the city of St. Louis," Stillman said, to applause from team employees and a number of current and former Blues players. "On the ice, the Blues are now one of the elite teams in the National Hockey League. On the financial side, we have some work to do." He did not provide specifics at Thursday's press conference, though he said it would include additional revenue and operating efficiencies.
Commissioner Gary Bettman called Thursday's announcement a historic event for a franchise that's a "mainstay" of the league. Its financial picture, he said, improved greatly when the sale closed on Wednesday.
"The franchise is less leveraged, and more liquid, and has more equity in it, and I believe that the support that this community will continue to give this franchise will ensure a successful future," Bettman said.
Stillman has been a minority owner of the team since a New York-based group led by Dave Checketts purchased it in 2006. The team was put up for sale again in 2011 after an investment firm sold of its 70 percent share, and Stillman's worked since then to put together an ownership group.