NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league could take over the New Jersey Devils before August. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
The National Hockey League is preparing to take the New Jersey Devils away from current owner Jeff Vanderbeek and the move could happen before August, according to Josh Kosman of the New York Post:
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is preparing to take control of the money-losing hockey franchise in the event Vanderbeek fails to refinance the Devils’ debt before a looming Aug. 14 deadline, The Post has learned.
In recent days, the commissioner’s office has told potential suitors to be ready in case he moves on the team and pushes Vanderbeek aside, a source close to the situation said.
Kosman reported that Vanderbeek is $77 million in debt to investors but is doing everything he can, including selling his majority stake in the Devils, to keep the league from owning the team that lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals in June. The original date for putting the team in default was July, but it was moved back to August once the Devils made the Stanley Cup.
In the report, Vanderbeek reportedly told Bettman in May that he's confident he'll pull off a deal to keep the team in the next few weeks:
Asked about the Devils before Game 1 of the finals last month, Bettman said Vanderbeek “is working to both refinance the debt on the club and equity-raise, and he appears to be fairly confident that he can pull this off in the next few weeks.”
Although Vanderbeek has until August 14 to reach a deal, Bettman is likely to give him only a few more weeks, according to Kosman, so that if the league does in fact have to assume ownership of the Devils, potential buyers will have ample time to dig into the team's books and make an offer to lenders.