Sunday, January 26, 2003

Panthers optimistic despite mounting losses


Hockey notebook

The Associated Press

SUNRISE, Fla. - The parent company of the Florida Panthers lost $64.7 million last year, according to financial audit documents, but team officials say the NHL franchise is on sound financial ground.

Officials at Panthers Hockey LLLP say most of the losses include write-offs and amortization and that the team's cash losses last year were closer to $17.5 million. Other losses reflect that Alan Cohen's ownership group spent cash rather than borrowing money to buy the team in 2001.

Although team officials downplayed the situation, the Panthers are close to finalizing a $30 million loan to help cover operating losses.

"It is a relatively common accounting practice that is related to the purchase of the team and the amortization of the assets included in the purchase," said Jeff Cogen, the team's chief operating officer. "It has absolutely nothing to do with the profitability or lack thereof of running the Florida Panthers hockey club."

The financial audit documents, showing losses for the year ending June 30, 2002, were filed in Broward County because the county owns the Office Depot Center and pulls in a portion of the arena's profits.

Phil Allen, the county's director of finance and administration, said the county is not "overly concerned" about the Panthers' financial situation, but will continue to look at the team's finances in light of recent bankruptcies in the NHL.

"You can't discount that potential," Allen said. "We are monitoring the situation. Our interest is heightened by bankruptcies in Ottawa and Buffalo. The Panthers tell us they're committed to keeping it operating."

McLaren signs with Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks agreed to terms with Kyle McLaren on Saturday, two days after acquiring the defenseman in a three-way trade with Boston and Montreal.

Terms of the deal were not available.

McLaren has not played this season after holding out with the Bruins. He was drafted by Boston in the first round in 1995 and was selected to the NHL all-rookie team the following season.

Plagued by injuries, McLaren has missed 141 games in seven seasons.

"I'm glad to be here in San Jose, where I hope to get a fresh start," McLaren said Friday. "I feel great. I have no problems."

McLaren could join the Sharks for their game in Los Angeles on Monday night.




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Xavier 75, Fordham 61
No. 8 Kentucky 63, No. 15 Alabama 46
Miami 58, Ball State 56
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