Ownership's impact on Cup contention

Updated: September 20, 2011, 12:43 PM ET
By Craig Custance

Looking back at how he ran the Buffalo Sabres while the team dealt with bankruptcy, Sabres GM Darcy Regier has one small regret.

"I probably wish I would have communicated more," Regier said. "Not with the coaching staff; I certainly communicated a lot with [head coach] Lindy [Ruff]. I wish I would have communicated with some of our senior players, the players that were more in the leadership position, and just told them what I knew. I think that would have helped."

It's not an easy position. Regier said the challenge is to keep team morale up while there is ownership uncertainty. Sometimes the best way to do that is to ignore the issue completely and focus on what can be controlled -- play on the ice. But it's a fine line.

Right now, as the season approaches, there are a number of NHL teams dealing with ownership issues -- teams that aren't getting the benefit of an owner like Regier's new boss Terry Pegula, who has energized the Sabres with his enthusiasm and wallet.

The Dallas Stars are currently going through the bankruptcy process, and GM Joe Nieuwendyk said he's optimistic there will be a new owner in place by Christmas. New Jersey Devils co-owner Jeff Vanderbeek plans to buy out fellow owners Ray Chambers and Mike Gilfillan, but according to the Globe and Mail, there's some doubt that he can afford it alone.

St. Louis Blues president John Davidson says there are "a number of very strong candidates" to buy the team.

"They're inching their way to getting something done," he said.

And of course there are the Phoenix Coyotes, still owned by the NHL.

The bottom line that fans of these teams want to know is this: Can teams be legitimate contenders this season while going through the process?