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Report: NHL prepared to take over Devils

Aug 8, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

Devils fans

Unless a buyer can be found, the New Jersey Devils are “likely to be taken over” by the NHL, according to a report by Forbes.

According to three sources, the NHL does not want the Devils to file for bankruptcy like the Phoenix Coyotes did in 2009. The Coyotes were recently sold for $170 million after going through an arduous lease renegotiation with the city of Glendale that kept taxpayers, players and fans in limbo for over three years.

Instead, the NHL would fund and operate the team while it sought a buyer. The Devils owe the league roughly $25 million and their payroll for the start of 2013-14 season is projected to be around $55 million.

The NHL, of course, just finally washed its hands of the Phoenix Coyotes. Will the league have to run another team now? There have been so many reports about the financial state of the Devils that it’s hard to say.

It was less than a year ago that owner Jeff Vanderbeek was reportedly able to refinance the franchise’s substantial debt and buy out his partners.

“Our future is now secure and we can be confident of continued on-ice success,” Vanderbeek said in a statement in January.

Apparently, that assertion was a tad optimistic.

As we passed along yesterday, the ownership group of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers – led by investment banker and majority partner Joshua Harris — is reportedly interested in buying the Devils.

More from today’s Forbes report:

The Devils have $230 million of debt and team owner Jeff Vanderbeek missed the first payment on a recently restructured bank loan. The team’s annual debt payment is around $15 million a year and in the past the Devils have already used prepayments of future revenue streams to pay bills. Andrew Barroway was poised to buy the hockey team and operating rights to the Prudential Center, but withdrew his offer within the past two weeks after getting a closer look at the team’s books.

Neither the Devils nor the NHL would offer a comment to Forbes on the situation.

  1. jb8383 - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    wtf…one minute bettman says he’s confident about the devils finances, and now this comes out?

    • jb8383 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      Tom Gulitti ‏@TGfireandice
      Gary Bettman says report NHL has plans to take over Devils is inaccurate.

    • stakex - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      A month and a half ago is hardly “one minute”. In the business world a whole lot can change in that amount of time.

      • jb8383 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        Thanks for the tip on how things work “in the business world”. Generally speaking if an outside party was going to buy the team or if the current ownership was trying to refinance or restructure the current loan, a month and a half isn’t all that much time to get it all done, work out the terms, etc.

  2. Anoesis - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Coyotes East.

  3. Anoesis - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    Maybe hockey doesn’t belong in Jersey, right? It doesn’t look viable there, so maybe they should move the club to Texas.

    • cruncher1201 - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      Or Seattle or Kansas City… but definitely not Jersey.

    • stakex - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      I think this has a lot more to do with financial mismanagement than anything else. Even though the Devils fan base is one of the lamest in the NHL, they still have the ability to be profitable and have been most years. Its just terrible management on the owners part.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        Perhaps. Over the last 5 years, while they have not been as poorly attended as the Coyotes (29th or 30th each year), NJD have averaged 22nd the last 5 years. They are located in the most “fan competitive area” of the NHL.

        Short term, it would solve another big problem if they were to re-locate to the WC. I have nothing against Quebec City or Toronto metro, but the league is currently unbalanced, and moving them west would get back to a 15/15 split and the crazy division playoff dynamics.

        KC is questionable, as their NHL and MLB franchises have been at a competitive disadvange compared to most of their competitors due to lesser attendance, and their NBA team moved.

        Portland has an NHL ready stadium and a decent fan base. Seattle has the fan base, would need to construct a stadium.

    • jhmiddleton81 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      They have won 3 Stanley Cups, and myself being a hockey player because of the Devils, I think this is without a doubt a hockey market, the fans are pretty good and they have a tremendous building in the prudential center, there is only one problem, and it’s their scumbag owner, the guy is in a lot of debt, and NEEDS to sell to the team to Joshua Harris, a guy who has deep pockets, will pay players to come to NJ and would own a building that frankly makes a good amount of money and hosts tons of events, they sell the team to Harris, he will turn their finances in order, this team and the building makes money, unlike Phoenix where they have nothing else going on outside of the hockey.

  4. sjsharks66 - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Coyotes east? Really? Last time the coyotes had even the slightest success the Devils organization has had was…..

    It’s amazing that the Devils are having these problems. Come on NJ go to games. With the history of this team and going to the finals a year ago, its sad to hear about their financial problems.

    • comeonnowguys - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      Exactly. I’d bet NJ has been higher than 19th in attendance at some point in their existence.

      • comeonnowguys - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        Yep, you have to go back 15 years, but they did! :)

    • nygnjd - Aug 9, 2013 at 2:58 AM

      Avg attendance last season was 17,114. Capacity for hockey at the Rock is 17,625. They sold out all but 2 home games. (Ironically, I was at one of them.)

      They will always rank lower in attendance vs any team with a bigger arena that sells out. They rank 20th, but could not feasibly rank higher than 14th while the ones above them are still at or near capacity.

  5. westinpat - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Is the NHL experiencing empty nest syndrome now that the Coyotes have an owner?

  6. cruncher1201 - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Forgive my ignorance, but I am not a Phoenix fan so I did not follow their conundrum. The NHL as owners do not make personnel moves, right? That would be illegal for sure.

  7. malvaren18 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    We need another team in Canada

    • comeonnowguys - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      You’re getting one in five years.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      AFTER the NHL resolves the imbalance between it’s overbalance of Eastern TZ teams and current conference imbalance (16 ETZ, 14 all others).

      I’ve seen a lot of Canadians calling for a team in Quebec City, Toronto metro, Hamilton, and I have seen ONE of them try and deal with the reality of the conference imbalance in their posts. Just “we deserve/want one”.

      I’ve looked and I don’t see a single remaining metro area in Canada WEST of Ottowa province that could possibly support a team.

      From a conference balancing perspective, IF the Coyotes can make it in AZ AND the NHL adds two expansion teams in WC cities, sure, move an existing EC team to eastern Canada.

  8. ballistictrajectory - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Move the team to Parsippany and rename them the Parsnips. Then we can all have a laugh as the play by play, color commentators, and various other media types try to deal with that.

    The can have a new arena named the “Root Cellar” too.

    This is what happens when you pay A player more than the GDP of many small nations.

  9. pirovash88 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    1. Losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012 to LA Kings
    2. Losing Zach Parise to Minnesota
    3. Losing Kovalchuk to retirement
    4. Losing franchise to bankruptcy

    Things are not looking to good for New Jersey right about now..

    • nj666 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      yeah getting to the cup finals sure was devastating… Minnesota is welcome to shell out 89 million on zach parise. Kovalchuk can have fun in the second rate league if he wants thats coo. The devils are still a franchise so I’m not sure what your getting with that. The devils will be fine and will still be a contender for years.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        I wouldn’t be so sure. If Lou has to start working with an even lower internal budget then they’re gonna have trouble attracting and keeping talent. Stable ownership is one of the most important aspects of building a successful franchise. Players wanna go to a team that’s on solid financial ground. Although I doubt the front office was actually upset to lose Kovalchuk’s contract (as ownership could not afford it), they’ve still lost two premier talents in consecutive offseason’s. The Devils never used to let their players walk unless they truly didn’t want them anymore. And although there’s no longer the “what’s after Brodeur” question with Schneider on board, there are a lot other questions. Will Henrique bounce back? Will Clowe stay healthy and adequately replace Clarkson? Can Ryder and Jagr replace Kovy’s production? Will Larsson take the next step? How will the new goalie tandem work together? How will the ownership problems affect the Devs ability to add salary during the season? Say NJ faceplants with an abysmal year… taking Matteau could seriously set back the franchise. And a losing campaign would hurt ticket/merchandise sales at a time when the franchise needs them most.

  10. Pierce Hacking - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    It’s definitely more crappy ownership than anything else. The stadium itself is great and it’s pretty easy to get to, but it was stupid to move it away from East Rutherford to where it is in Newark. It ‘s kindof like you go and something clearly doesn’t fit in the area and it’s not the tagged buildings around it…

    • nj666 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      You haven’t been there recently i guess.. I guess cities like philly, ny, det, la, chi, and bos are all graffiti free?

  11. giantssb42champs - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    I loved Vanderbeek in Varsity Blues.

    • nj666 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      i loved that joke 6 years ago…

  12. imnotyourbuddyguy - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Not enough douchebags into hockey?

  13. jhuck92 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    I think it’s time for Jay-Z to stick his fingers in the NHL for an old-school ROC takeover!

  14. girouxed - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:16 PM


  15. girouxed - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Man what the hell, what happened??

    Three cups, hall of famers all over the place. This team does not deserve to be thrown away. I will miss them dearly.

  16. kane987245 - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Ah, yes people. Jump on the hating on Jersey band wagon while you can. I love how when a franchise has any type of trouble people are more than willing to dump on them without a second thought or have any incline of the situation. If THIS is all you know about the situation, articles on this websites alone, you know absolutely nothing about the situation.

    Besides, didn’t everyone say PHO was gone when this happened and was confident it would happened? Look at them now. They are not a typical hockey market but found a way to survive. With that alone, if people honestly think the Devils are going to be sold AND moved, you are more disillusion than MON and VAN fans thinking they have the best teams every year and are going to win the Cup.

    NJ has been a strong growing market for the past two years and have been rising in attendance. It is not like their dynasty years but they are growing. The only thing that is going to make them get moved is if the fans left and that is something that isnt happening. And before someone throws the Nordiques at me, NJ has been an established franchise for a long time and has a championship pedigree. Something the Nordiques never had.

  17. proudliberal85392 - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    And, once again, he come the “Move them” know-it-alls. How about if the league moves your team instead? Hang tough, Devils fans. Take it from a die-9-hard Coyotes fan.

  18. fahmundamahbalsaq - Aug 9, 2013 at 5:58 AM

    Who’s brilliant idea was it to move the team to Newark? Really? Newark? Just voted “Most Unfriendly City” in the US. What a cesspool!

    And Bettman is talking more expansion. What a joke!

    • ravenscaps48 - Aug 9, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      It is a dump. That’s for sure. But the Devils belong in New Jersey. I’ll lead the charge to keep them there too.

  19. flydommo - Aug 9, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    Even as a Flyers fan I have to admit I have some admiration for the Devils franchise. Without spending big bucks they managed to bring home three Cups in the last 18 years and I always felt that their management was very good at chosing the right players for the right amount of money. I also appreciate the Devils’ esprit de corps, they place the team over the individual star player and usually form a coherent unit on the ice. Hopefully, they can get their ownership-related issues out of the way quickly since I love a healthy rivalry with competitive neighbours.

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