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Report: The Devils are flying toward bankruptcy

Nov 4, 2011, 8:37 AM EDT

Jeff Vanderbeek, New Jersey Devils Getty Images

The financial woes of some of the NHL’s teams are well known. Phoenix, Dallas, Columbus, even the Islanders can get thrown into that mix on occasion. The problems of the New Jersey Devils, however, aren’t played up quite as much… Until now.

Forbes’ Mike Ozanian reports that the Devils are headed towards bankruptcy themselves and that owner Jeff Vanderbeek is compounding the team’s issues by treating the team the same way Tom Hicks did with the Dallas Stars. The issue at hand for the Devils? Vanderbeek isn’t making interest payments on the team. Quotes from the Globe And Mail on Vanderbeek’s inability to pay follow.

Devils co-owner Jeff Vanderbeek already missed an interest payment on the $80-million (all currency U.S.) loan Sept. 1. He was given an extension by the lenders in order to try and raise enough money to buy out co-owners Ray Chambers and Mike Gilfillan.

However, Vanderbeek’s efforts have not paid off yet so he still has not been able to make the interest payment. The Devils are not an attractive property to buyers because of their attendance troubles at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. They are 25th among the NHL’s 30 teams in attendance with an average announced crowd of 14,074.

As you might imagine, this is horrible news. Ozanian concludes his report on the Devils saying that the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman have to do their part to get Vanderbeek out as the owner before the debt issue makes the possibility of selling the team virtually impossible.

Just when you thought things were turning the corner for the league, they’ve got another financial disaster to juggle and this one is in the heart of league’s biggest market.

  1. flyerscup2010 - Nov 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    this has been brewing for a while. im kinda frustrated with all the MOVE FLORIDA AND DALLAS LOL talk because i dont see a scenario where florida gets out of their arena lease and moves, and dallas sold out games consistently once upon a time when they didnt have ownership problems.

    meanwhile, the devils are notorious for not being able to sell out playoff games and stanley cup games. they’re worse off than the islanders. building the prudential center was an awful, awful business decision for that organization and for the city of newark.

  2. flyerscup2010 - Nov 4, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    and i hope i dont sound like a bitter flyers fan in saying all of that because that couldnt be further from my intentions. i WANT them to succeed because i dont want them to leave. philly has a rep for hating the cowboys, mets, and penguins, but in all honesty, our biggest rivalries both historically AND today are with the giants, braves, and devils. i want that to continue. us losing the devils would be as bad as the steelers losing the browns.

    it doesnt look good though. i just dont think theyre a big enough draw in new jersey no matter how successful they are. the nets used to subsidize that organization by playing in the prudential center. without that, they really cant survive, and ownership change likely wont fix that. it’s really unfortunate.

    • bsputnik - Nov 6, 2011 at 5:22 AM

      As a Pittsburgher, losing the Browns SUCKED. It took a while for the Ravens rivalry to heat up, but it really just isn’t the same. And with the incarnation of Browns2, having lost Browns1 and been so sad about it, we just can’t have the same hate for them.

      I hope the Devils make it out of this and stay put. It would be sad to see this franchise move yet again (back to the KC Scouts?) if that is even in the cards in case of bankruptcy.

      I can’t help but to think that years of playing boring, trap hockey have really taken a toll on the fan base. It is very hard to watch when you see it a few times a year. Couldn’t imagine seeing it every game.

  3. jfive84 - Nov 4, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    vanderbeek is a clown. ive been a devil fan my entire life and ive never seen a worse series of bad decisions. kovalchuk is good, but not 11.5 mill a year good, lou wouldnt have made that deal without vanderbeeks pressure for selling tix. nobody wants to come to newark and get their car stolen during the games (i take the train). many of the locals who work at the arena are rude and don’t care about the devils/hockey in general.

    also, the PR and marketing is awful there. corny slogans ‘rock your red’, ‘devils army’ suggest that theyre trying way too hard.

    the one nice thing about vanderbeek is that when they were building the new arena he gave all the construction/engineer workers unlimited tickets to the final year of games at continental airlines arena. lower seating too. thanks a lot jeff, but at this point you should let everyone in for free and hope to make money off concessions.

  4. whatswellydoing - Nov 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    This is why you don’t build an arena in a swamp…

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