Instead of being on the sports pages with playoff box scores, the New Jersey Devils have been on the financial pages quite a bit this spring. Earlier this month, it was reported by the New York Post that the team’s owner Jeff Vanderbeek had missed an interest payment of almost $3 million dollars in April after declaring in December that the organizations’ money woes were behind them.
Today, Forbes as well as Tom Gulitti’s Fire and Ice Blog is reporting that negotiations to take over primary control of the Devils from Vanderbeek are currently under way. A group which is headed by attorney Andrew Barroway is attempting to become the main governing body with Vanderbeek retaining a minority share. Gulitti’s blog also said that unnamed sources have revealed that the team’s General Manager Lou Lamoriello has been reassuring the Devils’ free agents as well as their agents that this change in ownership will shore up the team’s financial issues and keep the organization on solid ground for many years to come.
It was also said that he appeared confident that he will retain his current position with the Devils when the team changes hands. However, Lamoriello did decline to comment publicly when asked by Gullitti yesterday about the financial situation of the team.
According to the report in Forbes, Barroway loaned the money-strapped organization $30 million in order to help ease their financial distress. It also has been reported to the NHLPA that the loan was made to the Devils in a memo dated June 27, 2013. The memo states that Barroway is leading the group which would like to purchase the team. If it is unsuccessful, another group may step in with the team changing ownership at some point this summer.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to The Record, which is a North Jersey newspaper, after a Board of Governors meeting in Manhattan yesterday and concluded that the Devils were “stable” and that he and the league “remain optimistic about the future of the franchise.”
Barroway tried unsuccessfully to purchase the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011. He is a well-known financier and securities attorney who is the managing partner of the law firm Schiffrin & Barroway. Barroway was once named as a “mogul in the making” by Philadelphia Magazine and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Perhaps a new owner is exactly what the doctor ordered for the ailing Devils who have missed the playoffs for two out of the past three seasons. With financial concerns hanging over the team’s head, it is very difficult to convince some of the top free agents on the market that the Garden State is the place to play. If the organization can wrap up the negotiations sooner rather than later, it may bode well for the club when the doors open on the annual free agent frenzy at noon on July 5.