Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters today at the NHL’s all-star weekend in Ottawa that the Devils are “stable”, but the league is trying to guide the team through its ownership struggle. That struggle has had financial ramifications, however, and the league has provided some assistance with that as well.
Devils’ managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek and co-owner Ray Chambers have disagreed on the direction of the organization for some time and Chambers has been trying to dump his 47 percent share of the team. The Devils also have a debt of approximately $80 million that they are in the process of trying to refinance (while continuing to make interest payments), but that process is being impacted by the ownership situation.
“The best that I can say about that is it’s no secret that the two current principle owners haven’t seen eye-to-eye for a period of time and that has had some difficult consequences in terms of the operation of the club, and we’re helping to sort all of that out,” Bettman said after today’s Board of Governors’ meeting in Ottawa. “I think it’s fair to say the club is stable, but ownership isn’t getting along and I think all of you know when ownership isn’t exactly in a good place not always good things happen. We’re going to work our way through that and we’re going to give whatever assistance we can to help that happen.”
That assistance has also included an advance of funds, but not a loan. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said via e-mail that the league “advanced the Devils their own League distributions.” Daly confirmed that it was money the Devils were due to receive from the league anyway (as the franchise’s share of overall league revenue), but usually at a later date.
Daly called it, “Simply a timing issue” and said the Devils “have received no general League funding.”