Big news out of New Jersey, as Devils for sale?" target="_blank">Bloomberg News is reporting that Jeff Vanderbeek is putting the New Jersey Devils up for sale. This comes as a huge surprise for an organization where it seemed to be Vanderbeek was looking to position himself as a long-term owner for the franchise. No greater example of this is the 15-year free agent contract that was given out to Ilya Kovalchuk and the whole summer fiasco that followed his signing.
Where the franchise goes from here is anyone's guess, and more importantly, would GM Lou Lamoriello be willing to go through another ownership change? This is all speculation at this point, but Lamoriello has been around since the days of Dr. John McMullen, who brought the team to New Jersey back in 1982. Lamoriello came on board in 1987 and has survived the ownerships of McMullen, YankeeNets, and now Vanderbeek.
His longevity of almost 25 years is something you don't see often anywhere, let alone in the professional sports world, and whether he would have it in him to go through another ownership change is a legitimate question.
Also, the future of Zach Parise would come into play as well, as any potential ownership change could greatly impact how much money would be available to sign him (beyond the limits of the salary cap). There are a lot of other questions that could come into play for the franchise in the course of a sale, and even the mention of a potential relocation (while seemingly doubtful at face value) cannot be laughed at.
More to come in the days and weeks ahead for the Devils, as this is now added to the long laundry list of items that have made this as a disastrous season for the Devils.
Update: A statement was released by Jeff Vanderbeek and the Devils, which read as follows:
"As Managing Member of the New Jersey Devils, it is not my desire to sell the team," primary owner and chairman Jeff Vanderbeek said in the release. "My partner, Brick City, and I have different visions for the franchise. While Brick City has a right, under our partnership agreement, to explore a sale and Moag and Co. has been retained to assist in these efforts, I anticipate maintaining a controlling interest.“
It still remains to be seen what the future holds, but for now, it seems like Jeff Vanderbeek is planning to stick around as the chairman of the Devils. However, the remaining ownership of the Devils is in limbo a bit, so this will be a story to watch unfold.
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