Last week, word came out via Tom Gulitti that a group led by Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris was interested in buying the New Jersey Devils. Six days ago, after the Stadium Series Press Conference, Gulitti reported from a source that the team could be sold very soon. Gulitti and his source(s) were correct. This evening, the official Twitter account of the Devils' PR stated that there will be a major press conference at 11 AM on Thursday. Over at Fire & Ice, Gulitti confirmed that it would be to formally announce that Harris and his group will take over the Devils. They were approved by the NHL Board of Governors on Wednesday; hence, the announcement will come eight days after Harris was reportedly interested in the team. The source was right, it did happen soon considering this was a multi-million dollar deal.
Gulitti has the details on what happened in this very post. Essentially, while Andrew Barroway did give the team $30 million, they did not get a deal done during an month-long exclusive window. As a result, Harris and his group were able to step in and make one of his own. Harris' purchase does include majority ownership of the team as well as the Prudential Center via Devils Arena Entertainment. Given that Harris is a multi-billionaire and his primary partner David Blitzer is also wealthy, I would think that the debts plus outstanding loans - like Barroway's $30 million - will be dealt with. In fact, part of it may already be dealt with through the sale. Gulitti did state that the sale price of $320 million plus would cover the debts driven by the team and the arena (mostly the arena, if I recall correctly). That alone makes this good news. Especially if you were concerned about the team's financial situation long term.
Jeff Vanderbeek is not completely out of the organization, he will be a minority shareholder. I think that's a good thing. Vanderbeek was very willing to get out in the public, I don't think the team was horribly hamstrung in what they wanted to do (though they would be if it weren't for this sale), his passion for the team was true, and he was a driving force for The Rock to get built. I don't think or expect there to be a lot of animosity about his time as an owner He just didn't have the capital to continue owning the team. That's all. Rather than force the team into tight spots or hope for someone to kick in a lot of money but doesn't want majority ownership, Vanderbeek did the right thing by selling controlling interest in the team. I hope that Harris is willing to hear Vanderbeek out in a transitional point of view and continue some of the work the former majority owner started. I, for one, would like ownership to maintain public appearances since they will (and should) have more control over the business of the team instead of the actual hockey operations.
As far as Lou goes, well, he's Lou and he'll more than likely continue to be where he is at now: CEO, President, General Manager, and In Charge of Hockey Operations. As he should be. The worst thing Harris can do as a new owner is change that role. What could happen with the team itself once this sale is made official? I personally wouldn't be all that surprised that, in the wake of tomorrow's press conference, Adam Henrique gets officially re-signed to a new deal. Maybe another move happens as well (Damien Brunner?); but as we know with Lou as a general manager, one never truly knows. Except that it'll be status quo in short order.
In any case, what's your reaction to there being a new owner? What do you hope Josh Harris, David Blitzer, and the group will do for the team in the future? Do you think it's a good idea for Vanderbeek to still be a part of ownership, though in a smaller capacity? Remember when the Devils were going to be run by the NHL and people freaked out about it (because those who freaked out sure don't want to)? Should we just call him Josh instead of Harris, given his role? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the imminent new owners of the team in the comments. Thanks for reading.