On the same week the NHL finally relinquished ownership of one struggling franchise, a report surfaces that the league is poised to take over another.
Days after the Phoenix Coyotes’ sale to the IceArizona group was finalized, Forbes reports that the New Jersey Devils are likely to be taken over by the league “around the time the season begins next month.”
Citing multiple anonymous sources but failing to get a response by either the league or the Devils, Forbes reports that the NHL would rather take over the club than see it declare bankruptcy, as the Coyotes did in 2009.
The Devils are $230 million in debt, and owner Jeff Vanderbeek missed the first payment on a bank loan that was only recently restructured. A decrease in concerts and other non-NHL events being held at the Prudential Center, selected to hosted the NHL Entry Draft last June, has contributed to the team’s financial predicament.
The Devils owe roughly $25 million to the NHL, which would fund and operate the New Jersey club as it looked for a buyer, according to Forbes’ sources.
Both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly responded similarly to Thursday’s report during a press conference intended to publicize the Devils’ outdoor game against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium this season.
“To the extent it suggests that league is intending to take over the club, it is inaccurate,” Daly said of Forbes’ article.
On Wednesday, NorthJersey.com reported the Devils had already attracted two potential buyers, one being the Philadelphia 76ers ownership group headed by investment banker Josh Harris.