Checkers owner takes stake in Carolina Hurricanes

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 13, 2011 


Michael Kahn, Charlotte Checkers

— In discussing the Carolina Hurricanes late Thursday afternoon, Michael Kahn of Charlotte used the word "we" several times.

It was appropriate. Kahn, the owner of the Charlotte Checkers, now is a partner in the ownership of the Hurricanes. Peter Karmanos Jr., the Canes' majority owner, made that announcement today.

The Checkers are in their second season as the Hurricanes' American Hockey League affiliate, but Kahn said there were other reasons for investing in the Canes.

"My commitment to hockey shows that hockey is important to me," Kahn said in an interview today. "I believe in what Mr. Karmanos and Mr. (Jim) Rutherford are putting together, and I'm doing this for hockey in the Carolinas and hockey in the South. I really think this sport is on the cusp of getting bigger.

"I think the time was right (to invest). Honestly, when (Karmanos) decided he wanted to look for investors, when the opportunity presented itself, I was pretty much right there. And I'm sure other people will join in."

Karmanos said a few weeks ago that he had completed the sale of $20 million in equity in the Hurricanes, a franchise he valued at $240 million. Kahn did not give any financial terms of his investment.

The Hurricanes played the Winnipeg Jets in an exhibition game last month in Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena, drawing a crowd of more than 10,000. Kahn called it a "huge success" and said the Canes playing a preseason game annually in Charlotte is something that's being "definitely considered," although noting a game would not be played next season because of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Kahn said he has been a Hurricanes season-ticket holder for the past 10 years and attended the season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Wednesday's game against the Boston Bruins. Now, Kahn is a part of the Hurricanes' ownership group.

"We felt with the relationship of the Checkers and the Hurricanes this was a little deeper and could be more meaningful," he said.

Kahn said he was optimistic about the Canes' season. Carolina, which missed the Stanley Cup playoffs the past two years, was 0-2-1 before the win over the Bruins.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "I think there's a lot of talent. we have some got some good young kids and Cam Ward might have been the best goalie in hockey last year. I think we'll come around."

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Alexander: 919-829-8945

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