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Former Canucks owner tells court talks with would-be owners too slow @NHLdotcom

VANCOUVER (CP) - The former owner of the Vancouver Canucks told court Tuesday he was concerned about the pace of negotiations with one-time potential buyers before he pulled out and sold the team to Francesco Aquilini.

John McCaw told B.C. Supreme Court he was concerned the deal wouldn't go forward because talks between him, Tom Gaglardi and Gaglardi's partner, Ryan Beedie, seemed stagnant compared to deals he'd worked on in the past.

"I was concerned the deals wouldn't go forward," McCaw said of the 2004 negotiations. "I wanted to know if the transaction would proceed."

The two were once associates of Aquilini when the three first decided to bid for the team. However, Aquilini later pulled out when he told them he wasn't able to raise the money needed for any deal.

Gaglardi and Beedie are suing Aquilini, saying Aquilini used inside information he gained while working in partnership with them to scoop the team from them.

Aquilini denies he did anything wrong.

McCaw said he had received a proposal from Gaglardi in July 2004 after Aquilini had pulled out, but it didn't appeal to him.

Another more favourable proposal was then brought forward.

Stan McCammon, the CEO of Orca Bay and close business associate of McCaw, suggested it was a good place to start.

"(He) suggested we call purchasers, meet and work on issues to see if we could come to a deal or not," McCaw said.

He was then told by McCammon that Gaglardi didn't want to discuss the deal and didn't want to meet with McCaw face-to-face.

Instead, Gaglardi wanted a non-binding term sheet, which would have spelled out a more formal agreement between the two sides.

"It wasn't my preference but I was willing to accommodate," McCaw said.

McCaw was asked about a newspaper article that reported on the discussions that were underway.

It was followed up the next day by a press release distributed by Beedie's company.

"I was surprised," McCaw said about the published report. "We'd signed a binding confidentiality agreement. I expected no one would talk about this."

He said he'd called Gaglardi to tell him he was disappointed he had violated the non-disclosure agreement.

It was then that McCaw said he started to get concerned about the slow pace of the talks.

At the end of October, Gaglardi submitted a final proposal, which McCaw didn't find acceptable.

"Tom (Gaglardi) indicated to Stan (McCammon) that it was the biggest transaction the company had ever done and he was nervous about the risk associated," he said.

The talks were cut off at the beginning of November.

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