Analyzing Josh Harris and the Potential New Ownership for the New Jersey Devils

Joseph KuchieCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 10: Owner Joshua Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrates with the fans after the 79-78 win over the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 10, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

According to Howard Eskin of Fox 29 in Philadelphia, 76ers owner Josh Harris has agreed in principal to become the new majority owner of the New Jersey Devils.

Harris, the Senior Managing Director and co-founder of Apollo Global Management, has been the managing partner of the 76ers since reaching a deal with Comcast in 2011. According to Forbes, Harris has a net worth of $2.1 billion as of March.

Harris was born in Chevy Chase, Md., and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. If the deal is finalized, Harris would become one of the youngest owners in the NHL at age 48 (for example, former player Mario Lemieux, owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is 47).

While the deal has yet to be finalized and the numbers haven't been made public, it is a known fact that the Devils owe $160 million in bank loans and another $35 million to the NHL, as detailed in an article by Craig Wolff of The Star-Ledger. New Jersey also received a loan from Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Barroway worth an additional $30 million, also outlined in the aforementioned article.

Eskin reports that Harris will cover all the organization's debt once the deal is finalized, a feat that Devils fans have been waiting on for the past few years. More importantly, the deal will keep the Devils in New Jersey and Prudential Center, putting to bed any rumors that the Jersey's Team would be moving to a new city, according to the Associated Press via the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Reports from Forbes have suggested that the NHL would take over the financially unstable Devils as soon as this season. Gary Bettman and the NHL have consistently denied any report that the Devils were in danger of being taken over by the league and recently told Tom Gulitti of Fire and Ice that the reports were "not accurate."

Devils fans have been faced with the fear and paranoia of their team moving to a different city ever since the organization came to the state in 1982. Former owner John McMullen threatened to move the team to Nashville during the 1995 Stanley Cup run, and cities like Seattle and Portland have been rumored as potential suitors for the Devils franchise.

Harris' arrival will secure the future of the Devils in New Jersey for the foreseeable future, which not only bodes well for it's fanbase, but also for the players who test free agency.

The financial crisis surrounding ownership of the team has truly crippled this organization over the past few seasons. Average attendance before the 2012 Stanley Cup run didn't help, and losing both Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in back-to-back seasons doesn't help either.

In fact, Justin Bourne of The Score actually ranked the Devils 29th on most desirable places to play in the NHL, categorizing them into a group with Winnipeg and Calgary toward the bottom of the league.

While I don't agree with anything Bourne said on that list, he did point out that the team's location, financial situation and playoff ambitions all played a part in his ranking. Getting an owner who can right the ship and cover all the team's debt will undoubtedly show that this team is here to stay.

This deal could also open the door for the Devils to finally re-sign RFA Adam Henrique and possibly continue to test the market with free agents like Damien Brunner. Fans have heard more about the team's ownership situation than actual moves in free agency over the past few weeks. Finalizing a deal might change that.

There are doubts about Harris' sports knowledge, especially the fact that he is a Philadelphia owner buying the Flyers most hated rival.

However, money is money, and erasing over $200 million in debt will mean a lot more than who the Devils' rival is.

We will have to wait to see what happens next, but news about Josh Harris is a hell of a lot better than news about the NHL taking over the team.