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Report: Devils ownership split could be settled after $25M deal

Sep 24, 2011, 9:07 PM EST

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Lou Lamoriello,Ilya Kovalchuk,  Jeff Vanderbeek i AP

A couple weeks ago, the New York Post reported that the New Jersey Devils’ are in serious financial peril, while the team’s ownership group called the story “inaccurate.” Whatever the exact truth may be, the Devils should have a more unified vision after the team’s two majority owners came to a deal that should end what seemed like a growing rift.

The New York Post reports that co-owner Ray Chambers paid $25 million to essentially rid himself of his 47 percent share in the franchise, which would give his (soon-to-be-former?) partner Jeff Vanderbeek a 94 percent share. Rich Chere reports that Peter Simon holds the remaining six percent share of the team. Naturally, the league will have to approve that transfer of power, which Josh Kosman reports “is no sure thing.”

On face value, it seems strange that someone would spend that much money to give away a huge piece of a team, but Chambers would no longer be responsible for helping to pay off the team’s significant debt. Kosman reports that Devils Arena Entertainment – a company that controls the Devils along with running Newark’s Prudential Center – owes about $180 million at this time. Reports indicate that Chambers’ $25 million will help pay some of those bills.

The strange deal highlights both the shaky financial condition of the Newark-based team and the caustic relationship between the two owners.

As the deal is structured, Chambers, who has been looking to exit the mostly money-losing franchise for about a year, appears to feel the equity in the NHL team is worthless.

It also means that the billionaire Chambers, through his Brick City operation, is tired of pumping money into the troubled team.

People close to Chambers said he was never interested in making a profit from his Devils investment — but simply to help re-develop Newark.

While the Devils’ financial picture is still far from clear under the terms of that pending deal, it’s at least a little more straightforward. Considering the team’s issues on account spreadsheets, the future would certainly look a lot brighter if the on-ice product bounces back in the 2011-12 season.

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