New Jersey Devils avoid NHL takeover.


Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek speaks before the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

This was one of those chain lightning disasters the NHL was hoping to avoid. After four long years and a half dozen attempts, the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes were finally purchased. The NHL relinquished control to IceArizona ending one of the biggest disasters in recent hockey history.  It did appear for a while that the New Jersey Devils were going to follow the Coyotes into receivership (and continue to give Gary Bettman a proxy vote at the owners’ table).

Thankfully, that will not be occurring. The New Jersey Devils announced that there will be a press conference tomorrow at 11am. It is all but assured that the Devils will announce that there has been a change in ownership within the franchise.  A group headed by Joshua Harris(owner of the Philadelphia 76ers) should be the new majority owners of the debt burdened hockey club. A debt so severe that the current primary owner Jeff Vanderbeek would have likely had to hand over control to the league. (It was suggested that he would not have been able to pay next month’s payroll.)

The total investment will exceed $300 million(US).  That info comes courtesy of Tom Guilitti of the Bergen Record.

Harris and the investment group will be saddled with the underperforming attendance of the Prudential Center as well as having control of the Devils. (Vanderbeek will likely remain a minority owner when all is said and done.) They’ll need to restructure their crippling debt and have to figure out how to pay back forty five million dollars in loans.(Thirty million to lawyer and one time potential buyer Andrew Barroway, and an the other fifteen million to the league itself.)

The Devils suffered a gut putch recently when Ilya Kovalchuk decided to retire from the NHL to go back to Russia to play hockey for their KHL league. It’s been a rough month for Devils fans. However, there is one consolation for them. With the rights to the Prudential Center in their pocket, is severely unlikely that this new ownership group would attempt to move the Devils out of New Jersey.  So Bettman loses out on both fronts. No proxy vote, and no Seattle team either (at least this year).