SBD/January 30, 2012/Franchises

NHL Commissioner Insists League Not Subsidizing Devils With Outright Grants, Loans

Devils have explored avenues such as taking early payment of local TV deal to pay off debt
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and Commissioner Gary Bettman "insisted the NHL is not 'subsidizing' the Devils with outright grants and loans," according to Mark Everson of the N.Y. POST. But they did "confess the league has accelerated disbursing upcoming fees such as TV revenue." Daly said, "It’s not atypical. It’s not something we haven’t done before on perhaps many occasions. Obviously there’s something that has to resolve itself there on the ownership front, but I wouldn’t be concerned about the finances of the club." Devils co-Owner Ray Chambers is "trying to get out of his 47-percent stake in the team with the team facing an $80 million debt obligation that already has been extended." Devils Chair & Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek "wants to remain in charge of the team, and the Devils have explored avenues such as taking early payment of their local TV deal to pay off their debt." Daly said that "characterizing a financial agreement between Vanderbeek and Chambers as a buyout is 'not accurate.'" Bettman said of Chambers, "He’s still an owner." Bettman added that N.Y. billionaire and hockey fan Nelson Peltz is "not on the table as a Devils savior." (N.Y. POST, 1/29). Bettman said Saturday, "The best that I can say ... is it's no secret that the two current principal owners haven't seen eye-to-eye for a period of time and that has had some difficult consequences in terms of the operation of the club, and we're helping to sort all of that out. I think it's fair to say the club is stable, but ownership isn't getting along and I think all of you know when ownership isn't exactly in a good place not always good things happen" (Bergen RECORD, 1/28). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts notes Bettman’s stance "makes the Devils the most interesting team to watch over the rest of the season." Thanks to league rules, the bankers who "hold the Devils’ loan cannot foreclose until after the Stanley Cup playoffs are over but so far Vanderbeek has not been able to find any saviours." A source said that one group that "examined the Devils’ finances told him they could see no way the team could break even let alone turn a profit" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/30).
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