The New Jersey Devils may be closer to having their financial problems solved because Canadian billionaire Bill Gallacher is reportedly interested in trying to purchase the team.
Gallacher already has experience on the ownership side of a hockey team–he owns the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks–and is the chairman of Avenir Operating Corporation. He actually tried to buy the Dallas Stars when they too were in financial trouble recently, but lost out to fellow Canadian Tom Gagliardi.
The Devils’ financial issues have been going on for a few years as the team just accrues more and more debt. Jeff Vanderbeek, the team’s current majority owner, missed a loan payment of $80 million in September 2011 as well as the loan’s extension just last week. It’s been reported that he may be close to a deal with lenders to keep control of the team, though he has been having issues finding equity partners because of these missed payments.
Gallacher might be interested in buying a majority stake, although nothing is set in stone yet, but a deal could be done as soon as January 2013.
Though the Devils stacked up more than $25 million last season as they went to the Stanley Cup Final, that doesn’t seem to have helped their money problems.
Furthermore, the NHL has previously threatened to seize ownership control of the franchise if Vanderbeek didn’t make sufficient progress in finding new investors. The league has previously taken ownership of the Phoenix Coyotes, a team still in the process of securing a new owner.
New ownership has recently meant a culture change, not only in Gagliardi’s Stars, but also Terry Pegula‘s Buffalo Sabres. Pegula’s pockets are deep, so he can afford to spend big bucks to bring in or keep players and go down the road to strengthening the team.
Perhaps Gallacher could do the same for the Devils.