Barry Soskin, the founder of the Storm, and Tim Gladieux, the Storm and Sports Arena's majority owner, met in Toledo yesterday for 2 1/2 hours to discuss a potential sale of not only the ECHL hockey team to Soskin, but also the 58-year-old East Toledo facility.
Soskin, a Chicago businessman who sold the franchise to Gladieux and a group of investors in 1998, held his first face-to-face meeting with Gladieux since the pair began speaking some three weeks ago about the future of hockey in Toledo.
Citing financial losses, the Storm announced last Wednesday that it had requested permission from the ECHL's board of governors to suspend operations next season.
A conference call to discuss that request will be held Tuesday.
"He came out with a number for the team and the building that I was not comfortable with," Soskin said. "I'm not sure what my [counter] offer is going to be."
Soskin - who declined to divulge the number that Gladieux put on the table - said that he likely will call tomorrow with two proposals; one for the team and the other for the building and the team.
"I have a lot of enthusiasm," Soskin said. "But I am not going to overpay for that enthusiasm."
Gladieux would also not disclose the number that he presented.
"I don't want to comment on negotiations that are taking place," Gladieux said. "We're doing everything we can to save the Storm."
With the potential of the United Hockey League moving into Toledo, the ECHL is expected to take an aggressive approach to protect its interests in the market.
The league is pushing for a resolution to the Storm's situation so that it may begin creating a schedule for next season.
"If they deny the suspension, our goal would be to continue to work to find a partner or management entity to fund the losses," Gladieux said. "If we can't find someone to do that, it would be our intention not to operate next year."
Asked if he would be willing to forfeit the franchise if the request for suspension is denied, Gladieux said, "Yes. The big question is, 'What value does it have if you can't make money?' The only value it might have is to someone in another market."
MALLETTE RETURNS: Needing just one point in its next three games to qualify for Kelly Cup play, the Storm got a boost yesterday when center Carl Mallette was reassigned to the team by Hershey of the American Hockey League.
On loan to the Bears since Mar. 23, Mallette had no goals and two assists in seven AHL starts. He returns to Toledo as the ECHL's third-leading scorer, with 30 goals and 47 assists in 61 games.
The pivot was acquired by Toledo from Greenville on March 8 as part of a seven-player deal and had six goals and six assists in six games with the Storm before his call-up. Mallette will play tonight in Reading.