PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Hulsizer, a potential buyer of the Phoenix Coyotes, had his opportunity to convince the NHL's executive committee of his feasibility as an NHL owner Monday morning at the NHL Board of Governors meeting here.
The executive committee screens potential owners for the larger body of governors.
"It's kind of like a background meeting," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "The owners want to have a sense of him as a person, his experiences, and why he is doing this and why he thinks there is an opportunity here. I think he did a great job."
Hulsizer's message to the committee was short and simple.
"I'm a hockey fan, a hockey coach and a hockey player and I would love to join the club," he said when asked what he told the committee during his hour-long audience with its members.
From all accounts, Hulsizer's message was well-received.
"The executive committee met with Mr. Hulsizer today and it was a very good interview," Daly said. "I thought Matt did a great job and the exec committee is unanimous in their support of his application for ownership."
Hulsizer, a 40-year-old financier from the Chicago area, played as high as the collegiate level, skating at Amherst College, a Division III school in Massachusetts.
"I played hockey in my driveway 30 or 35 years ago and I'm shooting against the garage, I don't think I said I want to grow up and be an owner," Hulsizer said. "I certainly did want to be a player.
"I'm obviously flattered and honored. I don't know that I ever thought I could afford to be an owner."
But his day as an owner may be coming soon.
Hulsizer said he has put together some strategic partners, but insists he will finance much of the asking price, which is expected to be in the $160 million range. And he said he believes he is close to finalizing the purchase of the team, which has been owned by the League since it was bought out of bankruptcy 15 months ago.
"We've been working with the city and we've been working with the League," he said. "I just had the interview with the executive committee and I think it went fairly well and I'm optimistic that we are going to get this thing done by the end of the (calendar) year."
Hulsizer still must strike a new lease for Jobing.com Arena with the city of Glendale and he said he believes that could be announced as soon as the city's council meeting Dec. 14.
"Obviously, he has to finalize it and hopefully that can get done in the near-term," Daly said.
Even with hurdles remaining, Hulsizer appears incredibly excited about the possibilities that lie before him if he is approved for inclusion into the owners' club.
He spoke in detail Monday for the first time in a public setting about some of his plans.
"I think if you can make a good product, and it's been my experience if you make a great product, hockey teams have a lot of value and those things tend to grow over time," he said.
He argued that a good product is the best way to re-energize a market that has seen attendance issues in the past few seasons.
"I think they haven't had a great product and I think we can turn it around," Hulsizer said. "I think we are going to have to earn the fans back. I don't think it is something that people are immediately going to give us credit and say, 'Oh, by the way there is a new owner.' I'd love for that to be the case, but I don't think that will be the case. We are going to have to earn back their faith and show that by putting out a good product."
He said he will leave others in charge of developing that product.
"I'm an investor. I'm writing a check. I'm not running the team. I'm not running the arena," he said. "We're going to hire the best people in the world to do that."
Among those hires will be a new team president.
"It will be somebody with experience, somebody (the media) will look at and say, 'Yeah, I get it, this is a person that is an A player.' That is what we are going to do, hire A-quality people across the organization, put a great product on the ice, and hopefully earn back the fans.'"
He also said he will not mess with the current front office, which led the Coyotes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and has the team in fourth place in the Western Conference.
"Don Maloney is a terrific GM, one of the best, and Dave Tippet is a terrific coach," he said.