SBD/August 14, 2013/Franchises

Devils' Food: No Hang-Ups Expected In Josh Harris' Proposed Purchase Of Franchise

Harris' ownership is expected to be approved by the NHL BOG on Thursday
Though a deal has not been completed yet, "no hang-ups were expected" in 76ers Majority Owner Josh Harris' attempt to buy the Devils and "finally bring an end to the Devils ownership saga," according to a front-page piece by Tom Gulitti of the Bergen RECORD. A source said that the "only thing holding up the completion of the sale was the approval of the NHL’s Board of Governors, which is expected to complete its vote" by tomorrow. Another source said that current Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek will "retain a minority ownership share and continue to be involved with the team." Prudential Center also will "continue to be the Devils’ home after the completion of the expected sale to Harris’ group." Although the Devils have "struggled at times at the gate, season-ticket sales have increased steadily, and they enjoyed their best season in terms of attendance" in '12-13, averaging 17,114 for their 24 home dates (Bergen RECORD, 8/14).

THE OLD GUARD: In Newark, Steve Politi writes Harris should let Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello "do his job." All indications are that Harris "will let Lamoriello run the team for a 27th straight year." Politi: "How many GMs in sports history have worked for four ownership groups? ... Imagine the backlash if losing a Hall of Fame builder was his introduction to the fan base." Harris will "do the smart thing and let Lamoriello do his thing." But can Harris "make a difference?" His net worth "alone is a good place to start." Harris should "assure fans, from his first day on the job, that the Devils are here to stay in New Jersey." It is "quite likely that Harris wants the arena, ranked the eighth-highest grossing in the world." Given the financial "uncertainty that’s swirled around the Devils, it’s hard not to see this as a positive development for the Devils, as long as Harris keeps his wallet open and, when it comes to all decisions related to hockey, his mouth shut" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/14). SI.com's Stu Hackel wrote the Devils will have "abundant resources at their disposal and lots of brainpower for using them," and they are "going to need all of it to solve the problems that have long plagued the franchise." The Devils have "not been able to sustain a fan base that can fill its arena night after night, year after year, regardless of how well the team plays." They have "only sporadically been a 'hot ticket.'" Hackel wondered if the new ownership group will "replace Lamoriello and look for an advanced-stats approach as it has done with the Sixers." That would be "revolutionary, although trying to project what the group might do is, of course, entirely speculative." But it "might want to make other changes." Harris and his partners are "going to change what they think are the obstacles" to filling Prudential Center. It is the "only way this franchise can get back on its feet" (SI.com, 8/13).
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