Oilers sale to Daryl Katz approved by NHL

The NHL board of governors on Wednesday approved sales involving the Edmonton Oilers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tampa Bay Lightning also change hands

The NHL board of governors on Wednesday approved the sales of the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning, according to reports.

All 34 members of the Edmonton Investors Group agreed in February to sell the club for $200 million to Rexall pharmacy magnate Daryl Katz. Katz, 46, sent an e-mail to reporters confirming the board's approval.

"I am very pleased to have received the board of governors' unanimous approval," said Katz. "We look forward to closing the transaction on or before June 30 and gearing up for the coming season."

Katz has promised to keep the team in Edmonton and pursue getting a new arena to replace Rexall Place.

Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times in Florida reported the league also approved the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning to movie and television producer Oren Koules. The deal is pending the closing of the financial deal of $200 million US to buy the team and lease the St. Pete Times Forum, where the Lightning play.

Koules, 47, played in Medicine Hat and Calgary in the Western Hockey League in the early 1980s, long before achieving success with the Saw movie franchise and the television sitcom Two and a Half Men. Among his business partners in the Lightning deal is former NHL player Len Barrie.

Board endorses rule changes

Wednesday's meeting also saw the board endorse several rule changes that had been recommended by the NHL General Managers and approved by the Competition Committee:

  • A change to Rule 76.2 (Face-Offs) will place the first faceoff of a power play in the defending zone of the team that committed the foul.
  • The NHL was not prepared to adopt no touch icing but did amend Rule 81.1 (Icing) to make it illegal for puck-chasers trying to prevent icing to hit another player. The rule now states that "Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player."

A change to Rule 85.5 (Face-Off Location) provides that if a puck is shot off the goal frame, goal post or crossbar, the subsequent faceoff will remain in the end zone where the puck went out of play.

The board also endorsed immediate and long-term recommendations from the goaltender equipment working group that were approved by the competition committee.

Using the guiding principles that: (1) Goaltender equipment should not be any larger than it needs to be to provide adequate protection and (2) should be proportionate to the size of the goaltender, the working group will work aggressively with the goalies and manufacturers toward developing standards for the maximum size of all equipment that each individual can wear.

The board also voted to increase significantly its funding of USA Hockey programs, in particular the National Team Development Program, and voted to create a committee to oversee that expenditure.