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Thread: Bettman blocked Lecavalier trade

      
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    Default Bettman blocked Lecavalier trade

    Sources: Lightning sale could be complete by end of weekend;

    Ken Campbell
    2010-01-30 12:18:00
    Sources say the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning to Boston-based hedge fund manager Jeffrey Vinik is all but complete and could be official as early as Saturday or Sunday.

    In fact, itís believed that Vinik has already agreed to cover the Lightningís payroll, which is due Feb. 15, as part of a deal that will be signed in the coming days.

    The deal is being brokered by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who reportedly recruited Vinik, a limited partner in the Boston Red Sox who has no hockey background, to buy the team.

    Itís unclear whether Lightning governor and CEO Oren Koules of the OK Hockey Group will have any stake in the team, but it appears as though co-owner Len Barrie, who is experiencing troubles of his own with his Great Bear Resort near Victoria, B.C., will no longer be part of the ownership group.

    The price is believed to be about $170 million for the Lightning, the lease to the St. Pete Times Forum and 5.5 acres of land adjacent to the arena. That might seem like a high price for a team that has been a perennial money loser and is currently only drawing a paid attendance of about 10,500 per game, but the Lightning has a very favorable lease with Hillsborough County, which owns the rink. The team pays only about $650,000 per year in rent and gets all revenues from the hockey games and other events held at the facility.



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    Next on the agenda for the Lightning will likely be to begin shopping captain Vincent Lecavalier and his $10 million salary ($7.72 million salary cap hit). In the first year of an 11-year deal with Lecavalier that will pay him $10 million for each of the next six seasons, the Lightning needs to get out from under that onerous contract in order to begin the process of financial stability.

    And the way will be paved to do just that when Vinik takes control of the team.

    Sources say there was a deal in place last June to trade Lecavalier to the Montreal Canadiens for goalie Carey Price, center Tomas Plekanec and a prospect, but the deal was blocked by Bettman after Barrie refused to approve the deal. That caused a rift between Barrie and Koules that continued to fester and, combined with the financial problems both owners were having, put the Lightning in a state of flux.

    The Los Angeles Kings have emerged as the front-runner to get Lecavalier, but itís believed they are unwilling to part with the package of players and prospects the Lightning is demanding. Sources say the Lightning has asked the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson, right winger Wayne Simmonds, a prospect and draft picks. The Kings are one of the few teams who have both the cap room and the assets to get a deal of that magnitude done.

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    Default Re: Bettman blocked Lecavalier trade

    THN.com Blog: Vinik buying Bolts would signal bad news for team, league
    Vincent Lecavalier future with the Tampa Bay Lightning is once again up in the air after news of a possible ownership change. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Ken Campbell
    2010-01-29 10:27:00
    Allow us to be the first to acknowledge that almost any ownership structure for the Tampa Bay Lightning would be better than the (not so) OK Hockey Group.

    But fans of the Lightning might not want to jump out of their seats right away at the prospect of Boston-based gazillionaire Jeffrey Vinik buying their hockey team. Yeah, one guy with lots of money beats two guys with none who spent more time plotting against one another than they did building a hockey team, but if we’re hearing things and reading the tea leaves correctly, there are still all kinds of red flags when it comes to the Lightning.

    First of all, by all accounts, Vinik is not a hockey guy. He’s a limited partner in the Boston Red Sox and from what we understand, the Lightning is being presented to him by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman as an investment opportunity. Say what you want about former Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, but at least they were passionate about the sport.

    Vinik has forged a career as one of America’s most aggressive hedge fund managers. Now, my Grade 11 economics class didn’t teach me much, but from what I can gather, hedge fund managers take large amounts of money from rich people and invest them, often in high-risk, high-reward propositions where they try to perform better than the stock market, then flip the commodity when it reaches maximum value.

    So if Vinik is approaching his potential purchase of the Lightning with the same goal in mind, fans in Tampa can expect a largely absentee owner who will get in and try to make a return on his investment before getting out.

    In fact, we’re told that’s exactly how the Lightning is being pitched to Vinik. The NHL, which has an enormous interest in getting the Lightning into more stable hands that can access money for little things like, say, payroll, is reportedly telling Vinik the Lightning is an asset whose value will rise with a new television contract and, get this, a new collective bargaining agreement in 2012.

    If that’s true, I don’t know about you, but that scares the livin’ bejeepers out of me. That’s because for years prior to the lockout, Bettman told owners and prospective owners to hang in until the next CBA because it would contain cost certainty and make the financial picture rosier for everyone from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Phoenix Coyotes.

    And gee, how has that worked out? Well, there is still an enormous divide between the large market and small/non-traditional markets and some aspects of the current CBA are killing the latter.

    What’s even more disturbing is Bettman’s assurances of cost certainty were a major factor in the fact there was a lockout the last time around. So what’s he promising owners and prospective owners this time? Abolishing guaranteed contracts? An even bigger piece of the revenue pie? An end to long-term contracts? Because it seems to be those very things that the owners need in the next CBA and those are the kinds of things over which the players will – at least in the short term – be willing to wage a battle.



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    The last lockout had almost nothing to do with cost certainty or leveling the playing field. It was about enhancing franchise values and it happened, but the earth was scorched for a year and we didn’t see any NHL hockey. If that’s what’s being promised this time around, who knows what the NHL will do to make it happen?

    There’s also the matter of the Lightning possibly losing its franchise player. From what we’ve been told, if Vinik gets the team, he’ll want to cut the payroll and the most logical way of doing that would be to trim captain Vincent Lecavalier’s salary. Lecavalier’s cap hit is $7.7 million, but for the rest of this year and for six more years after this season, his actual salary is $10 million in real dollars the Lightning will have to pay out.

    So let’s review, shall we? If all of this comes down – and depending on the source it could happen as early as this weekend – you have the possibility of an owner whose sole motivation is to enhance the value of the franchise and then sell it, but not before trading away the face of the organization.

    But that’s what happens when you’re desperate to sell.

    There are reports the NHL covered the Lightning’s last payroll and was faced with either doing so again or having it covered by former owner, Palace Sports and Entertainment, which would regain control of the team. The finances are a mess and the Lightning is drawing about 10,000 fans a game.

    Suddenly, 2004 seems like such a long time ago.

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    Default Re: Bettman blocked Lecavalier trade

    Hello Hamilton Lightning!

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    Default Re: Bettman blocked Lecavalier trade

    Quote Originally Posted by wvkeeper View Post
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    Hello Hamilton Lightning!
    Best thing for Ontario

    maples laffs will lose a lots of customer and they deserve it

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    Default Re: Bettman blocked Lecavalier trade

    Fire Bettman

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