Jump to content
The Official Site of the Montréal Canadiens
Canadiens de Montreal

Rumour Tampa To Be Sold


Recommended Posts

Negotiations to sell the Tampa Bay Lightning to Boston-based hedge fund manager Jeffrey Vinik have hit a snag in recent days, but it won’t be enough to keep Vinik from buying the franchise.

It may very well, however, ensure that Vincent Lecavalier remains a member of the Lightning, at least for the foreseeable future.

At different times over the past two days, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Lightning co-owner Oren Koules, Vinik and Palace Sports and Entertainment CEO Tom Wilson have been meeting at the NHL offices in New York in an effort to hammer out an agreement to sell the team from Koules’ OK Hockey Group to Vinik, a limited partner in the Boston Red Sox and one of the most successful hedge fund managers in the United States.

The sale is still expected to be completed, but there has been a twist. Vinik had originally planned to ask Lecavalier to waive his no-trade clause so his 11-year, $85 million contract could be moved. But Vinik has apparently come to realize there would be considerable backlash in the local market to that move, so he is negotiating to bring the purchase price down from $170 million to about $140 million. That, presumably, would make it more palatable to keep Lecavalier, even with his $10 million salary for each of the next six seasons.

It’s believed Bettman would make keeping Lecavalier for at least three years a requirement of the sale at a reduced price, but going down that much in price would certainly be a hit to Bettman’s attempts to keep franchise values high. Koules and Barrie bought the team in 2008 for $200 million and Bettman apparently wanted to get that much for the Lightning, its lease at the St. Pete Times Forum and a 5.5-acre parcel of land adjacent to the arena.

Related Links

Campbell: Bettman's integrity on the line

Campbell: Vinik signals bad news

Lightning sale close

Get hockey on the go with THN mobile

Follow THN on Twitter

Become a friend of THN on Facebook

But Vinik, who has made his fortune buying and selling stocks and trying to outperform the market, would not pay that price, nor would he let anyone believe he paid anywhere near that amount. Sources say Vinik thought the $170 was too much, but was willing to pay it, but only if it meant Lecavalier could be moved.

In fact, it has been speculated the sale price could very well have already been agreed upon, but the two sides are haggling over what will be the announced price. Bettman, wanting to keep franchise values high, would like the announced price to be as high as possible. Vinik, apparently already concerned of his reputation on Wall Street amid claims he is making a vanity purchase, wants the announced price to be as low as $125 million.

And once the league deals with the Tampa Bay situation, a source contends the league will then have to deal with the probable sale of the Dallas Stars. Despite selling the Texas Rangers for more than $500 million recently, Stars owner Tom Hicks’ financial troubles have not subsided and the CIT Group, to whom Hicks has defaulted on loans, is forcing the Stars owner to sell the team.

To that end, the Stars have already hired an investment advisor to put the team on the market. The starting asking price is believed to be more than $300 million. It’s believed the Stars lost just $5 million last season, but that was without the benefit of any home playoff dates.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Friday that a group headed by Boston businessman Jeff Vinik has agreed to purchase the hockey club as well as additional holdings, pending approval by the National Hockey League.

Vinik will act as chairman and sole operator of Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, LLC. The local entity will maintain control of the Lightning franchise, the company which operates the St. Pete Times Forum, as well as two parcels of land adjacent to the property.

"Buying the Lightning and joining the Tampa Bay community is a dream come true," said Vinik in a statement. "I've been an avid hockey fan my whole life and I pledge to our fans that I will work my hardest to build the Lightning into a world class organization both on and off the ice."

The 50-year-old Vinik is a Boston resident and former hedge fund manager who is also a minority owner of the Red Sox.

Once the sale is approved by the league, Vinik will take over for current owners OK Hockey, LLC, which includes Hollywood producer Oren Koules -- a company that had just taken control of the team prior to the 2008-09 season and revamped the entire front office and roster in hopes of building a winner.

Amidst the upheaval, Tampa Bay finished 24-40-18 last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight year. However, this season the Bolts are in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference with a 24-21-11 mark entering Friday's play.

"The day is a bittersweet one for us, as I believe we have established a strong foundation on the ice and begun to point things in a positive direction for the Lightning," said Koules. "We look forward to seeing Jeff take the team from here and move it forward. I believe we are leaving him with some great pieces in place and hopefully he can build upon them to deliver a consistent winner in the future."

Since entering the league for the 1992-93 campaign, the Lightning have suffered through misfortune on the ice and constantly-shifting ownerships.

The franchise's best years came under the control of Palace Sports and Entertainment, whose nine-year run included four playoff appearances, a Southeast Division title and a Stanley Cup in 2004.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

No way..

Wow it seems simple to buy a NHL franchise these days

Bettman has put another band aid on another franchise. Never ceases to amaze me how they can find people who think they can turn a profit in these markets. After losing 30 million in the next 2 years, this guy will be dumping them too

Link to comment
Share on other sites

TAMPA - First impressions do not always reflect the right way. Things can easily get distorted over time.

But what a first look can do is offer some insight.

When OK Hockey took control of the Lightning, what we saw was a new ownership that was passionate about the endeavor into which it was about to venture. Oren Koules and Len Barrie wanted to build a winner, and they showed us they were serious within a week of officially owning the team when Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts were brought in and Vinny Lecavalier was inked to what amounts to a lifetime contract.

Things obviously haven't worked out as planned, and the franchise is set to transfer again, this time to Boston-based money manager Jeff Vinik.

On Friday, when it was announced a deal was reached for Vinik, 50, to purchase the team, he granted a rare interview to the local media that lasted about 30 minutes before he had to return home. Vinik plans on returning to Tampa this week for the final two home games before the Olympic break. Perhaps by the time he comes back, the deal will have final approval and he can be introduced, officially, as the new owner.

But what was learned in Vinik's first impression?

He is passionate about the sport, he wants to build a winning organization from the top to the bottom and he wants to enjoy being the owner of a professional sports franchise.

We've heard that before.

I get the impression, however, that this plan will be followed through, at least in principle. After being portrayed in early reports from The Hockey News that Vinik was purchasing the team solely as an investment - which is his day job - he debunked that notion.

"I would say wrong, 180 degrees backwards," Vinik said of those assuming this is an investment-only venture.

"I make investments at work. I don't want to make investments here."

Then as I began replaying the entire interview on my recorder, and poring over everything Vinik said, there was one answer he gave that caught my attention. Vinik was asked about observers being a little skeptical about what he was saying and why fans should take him at his word when things fell apart in the past 18 months.

"I think, in checking, my track record is as good as anything," Vinik said. "But I can understand there is a degree of skepticism and my mission to accomplish what I am setting out for, day by day, month by month and year by year, so you can judge me over time."

He ended that statement with what I feel can sum up exactly why things might be different this time. After all the speculation of Vinik's intentions, and after about 20 minutes of questions and answers, he said of all that skepticism, "My comments are genuine and my interest is sincere."

Vinik was rather adamant in what he wants to accomplish here, and it's easy to sit behind a computer and tell you to take him at his word when he ultimately will be judged by his actions. But his words are all we have to go by now, and as far as first impressions go, you have to like what he is saying.

Reporter Erik Erlendsson can be reached at (813) 259-7835.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...