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DEVILISH MOVE: TEAM WANTS OUT OF LEASE NEXT WEEK
Published June 28, 1995
The Devils, "only three days after the greatest triumph in the state's sporting history -- and on the eve of the gala pep rally to celebrate that achievement ... yesterday dropped this bomb on the state of New Jersey: As of July 6, they are terminating their lease with the Meadowlands," writes John Dellapina in this morning's N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The NJ Sports & Exposition Authority has responded to the team's latest move by filing a complaint in the Bergen County Superior Court that seeks an injunction preventing them from moving (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/28). Tuesday's action follows a letter from the team to the NJSEA Saturday stating their desire to terminate the lease after '96-97 (THE DAILY, 6/27). Jeff Legwold reports in this morning's TENNESSEAN that the two sides held a negotiating session last night after the injunction had been filed. Legwold also reports that the NJSEA had cancelled an emergency board meeting scheduled for today at 5pm (TENNESSEAN, 6/27). DASTARDLY DEVILS: N.Y. POST headline: "Disgraceful move by the Devils." Larry Brooks writes, "The Devils front office yesterday disgraced itself, the sport and the Stanley Cup." Brooks, noting today's celebration: "The Devils have displayed the least grace and most gross insensitivity imaginable. ... They have seen to it that this season ends exactly as it began -- lousy with dispute over money" (N.Y. POST, 6/28). In the N.Y. TIMES, Richard Sandomir writes, "The Devils' stunning maneuver was the boldest demonstration of yet their hardball stance" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28). ESPN's Bob Ley called the move "one of the most audaciously timed announcements in sports," and "the clearest and most pointed" indication that the team will move to Nashville" ("SportsCenter," 6/27). NEWSDAY's Jim Smith quoted a source that said, "It doesn't mean the team is going to move," adding that that the team is simply "turning up the flame" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 6/28). In Nashville, Jeff Legwold writes the Devils "unveiled their biggest threat to date Tuesday and then went straight to the bargaining table to avoid following through with it" (TENNESSEAN, 6/28). In L.A., Helene Elliott writes that today's celebration "may turn into a farewell party" (L.A. TIMES, 6/28). NOTABLES REACT: NJ Gov. Christine Todd Whitman said the timing of the move "is unfair to the fans who have stood behind the team for the past 13 years and the players who deserve a moment of public appreciation" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28). Devils President Lou Lamoriello last night "downplayed" the move: "The only thing I can assure you is that we're in no different position than we were two months ago, three months ago, and this does not mean anything." NHL VP of Public Relations Arthur Pincus said the Devils had not filed a transfer application: "Right now, it's a local matter." Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen had no comment (TENNESSEAN, 6/28); nor did Commissioner Gary Bettman (N.Y. POST, 6/28). Nashville Arena Manager Russ Simons: "There is nothing bad about any of this. ... Until the (Devils) actually say something, it's really guesswork. I think we have 5% of the story and there is 95% to go" (TENNESSEAN, 6/28). INSURANCE POLICY? ESPN's Keith Olbermann reported that according to a May 8 agreement by the Nashville Metropolitan Council, any NHL team announcing a move to Nashville would receive what amounts to $12.5M of "lame duck insurance." The agreement states: "A move announcement is made more than a year in advance of the actual move, the same consideration [$12.5M] would be paid in recognition of decreased revenues at the team's current facility." Olbermann: "In other words, it doesn't matter where the Devils play next season. If they announce tomorrow they are moving to Nashville in '96, Nashville would still pay them $12.5 million for this season. The total package would then be worth not the previously reported $35 million for the Devils, but in fact, something closer to $47 million" ("SportsCenter," 6/27). OTHER OBSERVATIONS: The Bergen RECORD's Bill Pennington calls for the NHL to recognize NJ as a separate market from NYC. Pennington: "The New Jersey market, separated from New York, would be the tenth largest market in the nation" (Bergen RECORD, 6/27).