Despite a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the New Jersey Devils are losing money. Which probably explains their change in stance on opposing teams buying tickets for games in the Prudential Center earlier this season.
Owner Jeff Vanderbeek is reportedly in the final stages of a deal for a majority stake in the team that would help pay some of $77 million in past due debt, but according to the New York Post, Gary Bettman is skeptical of the deal.
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.
While Bettman has said publicly that he expects the Devils’ financial situation to be resolved soon, his behind-the-scenes moves suggest he’s far from confident that a deal will get done.
His skepticism shouldn’t come as a surprise. Since the Devils missed a principal payment in September, Vanderbeek has said several times he was close to a solution to the team’s debt woes, only to come up short.
When the team made it to Stanley Cup finals this spring, the team’s lenders agreed to extend the deadline for when they could put the team in default from early July to August, sources said.
This wouldn’t be the first time Bettman stepped in and took over a franchise. Back in 2008, the NHL took over the Phoenix Coyotes and by all accounts, the ship has been righted.
As for the Devils, the news is even more troubling when you take into account that they reportedly made $32.3 million in ticket revenue during this year’s playoff run.
UPDATE 2:45 pm: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denies the report in an email to USA Today.
“I don’t anticipate either the league having to take over the team, or the team having to file for bankruptcy,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told USA TODAY Sports in an email.