SBD/Issue 55/Franchises

NHL BOG To Meet This Week; Lamoriello Denies Struggles

The NHL BOG will meet this week in Phoenix to "discuss the fate of some of [its] troubled franchises," according to Al Strachan of the TORONTO SUN, who noted it is the first BOG meeting in six months. Now that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has the Sabres' sale "settled, he is moving on to the next crisis point" — the Senators. Strachan: "This is a team that has a huge debt and no equity. It is a team that repeatedly has had to go to the league to get cash advances to meet its payroll. There's a share offering out at the moment but, if it fails, will the Senators do the same?" (TORONTO SUN, 11/30).

Lou Lamoriello Looks For
New Devils Arena

DEVILISH DENIAL: Devils President & CEO Lou Lamoriello said that the franchise "is on sound financial ground and that nothing has happened to infringe upon short- or long-term operations." Lamoriello: "There is no problem with the financial status of the team. ... For me to deny that we lost some money last year, I'm not going to do that. To what extent, I'm not going to get into, but it's not uncommon that when you don't go further than the first round [of the playoffs] that you don't make money. That's why we're looking to have a new arena [in Newark]." Meanwhile, Lamoriello said of a Newark Star-Ledger report that the YankeeNets BOD voted last week not to buy a 20% stake in the Devils: "I can tell you this, [in that story] nothing was true. There was a meeting, but it had nothing to do with that. I was in the [NHL] general managers' meetings all day. Would I have been there all day if this was going on?" (Bergen RECORD, 11/30). More Lamoriello: "Let me put it this way: This organization is unquestionably in a stable position. There's no problem" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/28).

SABRES: In DC, Eric Fisher wrote that the fate of the Sabres "will prove to be something of a lab experiment for all struggling small-market teams, regardless of the sport. That's because the Sabres are facing just about every possible hurdle in their quest to regain solid footing competitively and financially." Prospective Sabres co-Owner Mark Hamister said, "Right now, we're still the students. There's a lot to learn from places like Minnesota, with the Wild, that have thriving [hockey] teams in somewhat smaller markets. But ultimately, we believe very strongly that if we study and act upon all our opportunities, ... we can stabilize this franchise and get it turned around" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/1). In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger examined OHL Erie Otters Owner Sherry Bassin's bid for the Sabres. Bassin said, "We sure mishandled the process. ... You could say we fumbled it" (TORONTO SUN, 11/30).

STILL SHOPPING: Predators Owner Craig Leipold said that he is "still looking for a local investor or investment group to buy" 20-30% ownership in the team. In Nashville, John Glennon noted that Gaylord Entertainment "exercised its option to sell back its 20% share of the Predators earlier this year, and Leipold bought back that portion of ownership." Leipold said that he "intends to keep the remaining 70-80% ownership" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 11/28).

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