Matthew Hulsizer has become a minority owner of the Wild and minority owner Phil Falcone is out.
Hulsizer, a Chicagoan and former Amherst College hockey player, is CEO of PEAK6 Investments. Hulsizer has purchased 100 percent of Falcone's shares, which was down to less than 25 percent of the team after majority owner Craig Leipold purchased pieces of his stake over the past few years.
During a long comprehensive process that actually delayed this transfer for some time, Hulsizer got re-vetted by the NHL even though he has been vetted many times during his previous purchase attempts. Hulsizer met with the executive committee during the All-Star Game and was approved unanimously during a fax vote this week by the Board of Governors.
Leipold remains the team's majority owner.
As a result of this new agreement, there is no ability for any minority owner to obtain a majority stake in the team. That is different than the old agreement that did have a buy-sell clause. That meant there were mechanisms for Falcone to eventually become the majority owner by buying Leipold out or Leipold buying Falcone out.
That is no longer in this agreement with Hulsizer. Leipold said he's in for the long haul. "I'm planning to keep this for generations. This is becoming now a family investment."
"He is a hockey gooney," Leipold said, laughing, said of Hulsizer. "He's just a hockey guy. He loves hockey. He's a hockey fanatic. He watches all games at night. Now, he loves the Wild. For the last four months, during almost every game, I get texts from him and we kibbitz back and forth during the games. He's got a pretty good eye for talent and he's not shy to let me know what's going on with other players.
"He really believes in the analytical aspect of hockey. That comes from the business that he is in, in statistics and analytics of understanding stock markets and money funds and the value of international currencies. He's a numbers guy. He plays hockey today. He coaches his kids in hockey. He's going to be a fun guy to own the team with.
"Being a minority owner with a hockey team in a big hockey market, he's going to fit in real nicely. He loves the game. Let me tell you right now, he's made it very clear, he's only about winning. He's only about winning. That's what it's all about. That's why we hit it off so well. Listen, he doesn't ask about the financials of the team. He doesn't ask about the revenue and expenses. He asks one thing: How are we going to win?"
Leipold said, laughing, "That's the kind of guy I want, because frankly I do ask about revenue and I do ask about losses. It's only about winning. No question, he's a huge Wild fan right now. We both have one objective in mind and it's the same as Chuck Fletcher's and all of the players, and that's to win a Cup. That's the perfect partner."
Leipold said Hulsizer will probably make it to five games a year because he's not a fan of flying. "He drives over to Iowa to watch the American Hockey League games."
(Russo note: Hulsizer must be a glutton for punishment then. I kid, I kid, the Iowa Wild).
Falcone has had some well-documented troubles with the SEC, paying an $18 million fine two years ago.
"Phil was a really good partner," Leipold said. "Similar to Hulsizer, he was focused on winning the Cup as well. I like Phil. We spoke often. He had some personal reasons to exit the investment, and I respect that. But he's going to be a Wild fan forever and I've encouraged him to come back and watch games with me."
A quick hockey-related note: Forward Michael Keranen has been sent back to Iowa. He was scratched four times without making his NHL debut. The Wild's had an optional today. Rachel Blount is covering and she'll be on the Sean Bergenheim conference call this afternoon and blog afterward.
I am doing another podcast with Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan at 2:30 p.m. before my flight to Nashville. You can listen live at souhanunfiltered.com.
Here's the team's official release on Hulsizer:
The Minnesota Wild today announced changes in the makeup of its board of directors and investment partnership structure.
Matthew Hulsizer joins the board of directors as vice chairman and minority owner effective immediately. Hulsizer is co-founder and chief executive officer of PEAK6 Investments, L.P. based in Chicago. He is a passionate hockey enthusiast, played hockey at Amherst College and continues to play and coach in the Chicago area. Hulsizer’s ownership stake was unanimously approved by the NHL Board of Governors.
“I am very honored and excited to be a part of the Wild organization and to be partners with Craig [Leipold],” said Hulsizer. “As a life-long hockey player and fan, I have always dreamed of winning a Stanley Cup. Craig and I share a commitment to winning and we look forward to bringing the Stanley Cup to Minnesota.”
Also effective immediately, Philip Falcone, CEO and chairman of HC2 Holdings in New York, is vacating his minority ownership stake in the Wild after deciding to focus on other opportunities.
“It’s been a great seven years being part of the NHL and the Wild family,” said Falcone. “As a true Minnesotan, I’m as passionate about hockey and the Wild as I’ve ever been. Unfortunately given my New York City residency and schedule, I haven’t been able to enjoy this asset and spend as much time involved in the organization as I would have liked, so I’ve decided to pursue a different path. I wish Craig and the team nothing but the best and hope they can bring the Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey.”
“On behalf of the Minnesota Wild and the State of Hockey, I would like to offer Philip our sincere thanks for his support of the Wild and hockey in general over the past seven years,” Leipold said. “With Philip’s support, we were able to return the franchise to the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two years. He has been a terrific owner and partner during his tenure with the organization.”
With these investor changes, the Minnesota Wild board of director’s membership now includes Chairman Craig Leipold, Vice Chairman Matthew Hulsizer, Quinn Martin, Mark Pacchini and Jac Sperling.