The owner's suite at Allstate Arena sits empty during Wolves games.
Don Levin instead watches from a nearby production booth with a better view of the ice. He stands on a small wooden step, living and dying with every line rush and shot on goal.
The setting is nothing like the boardrooms around the world where he has amassed a fortune by owning paper mills in France, a tobacco factory in North Carolina and by producing movies in Hollywood, among other ventures. While owning the Wolves for the last 19 years hasn't done much to help fill his bank account, it has combined two of Levin's passions: business and hockey.
"I've held two Cups and there's one more I want to raise -- the Stanley Cup," Levin said. "That would be a lot of fun."
A lifelong Chicagoan who made an unsuccessful run at purchasing the Cubs, Levin, 65, has the connections, motivation and resources to be an NHL owner but is lacking an available franchise.
"I've been trying to do this for years," he said. "What I've learned is you have to strike when the iron is hot. Toronto sold (in 2011) and I couldn't afford that. Montreal sold (in 2009) and I came in second on that. I don't know what else will come up. You don't know when and where these things will happen. You just have to be prepared."
Levin called the near-miss on purchasing the Canadiens "difficult to swallow." He said he offered "around $500 million" but was outbid by Geoff Molson by about $60 million. "In hindsight, perhaps I should have offered more money for Montreal, but the die is cast," Levin said. "There's nothing I can do about it."
Until another NHL franchise becomes available in a situation he finds attractive, Levin will bide his time hoping for expansion. But he says it has to be a location where hockey is viable, with warm-weather sites low on his list.
"If I didn't feel comfortable with the market I wouldn't do it," said Levin, who has kept a close watch on the negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players' association. "I hope they will get the CBA resolved and be able to get the markets stabilized they have now and then hopefully in the next two or three years have expansion."
Levin has heard the rumblings of possible future NHL franchises in Quebec, Las Vegas and Kansas City but mainly has focused on Seattle, a city that is attempting to build an arena that could house both an NBA and an NHL team.
"Seattle would be a great market for hockey, but right now there is no building -- it's years away," Levin said. "(But) if there was something that came available I might try to buy that."
The question begs, why would anyone -- especially a man so successful in other businesses and seemingly so level-headed -- yearn to join a league on the brink of a second canceled season in seven years due to labor strife?
"Hockey is my passion," Levin said matter-of-factly.
That passion could lead him into a business situation that hasn't been profitable for many owners in recent years. According to Forbes Magazine, 18 of the 30 NHL teams lost money during the 2010-11 season and current financial woes are among the reasons owners have locked out players and are seeking considerable salary reductions.
But profit isn't Levin's driving force.
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