NHL May Take Over Devils to Prevent Bankruptcy, Forbes Says

The National Hockey League may take over the New Jersey Devils next month unless a buyer emerges for the team, Forbes reported.

The Devils have $230 million in debt and team owner Jeff Vanderbeek missed the first payment on a restructured bank loan, the magazine reported on its website, citing multiple people it didn’t identify.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that he hadn’t seen the Forbes report “but if the suggestion is we’re going to take over the Devils, which is what I’ve heard the report says, it’s not accurate.”

Robert Sommer, president of Rock Entertainment Management, which is involved with the Devils and Prudential Center in Newark New Jersey, declined to comment on the Forbes report.

The Record of Bergen County reported that two other groups, one headed by attorney Andrew Barroway, the other by Josh Harris, the owner of basketball’s Philadelphia 76ers, were trying to buy the Devils.

The league doesn’t want the team to file for bankruptcy, like the Phoenix Coyotes did in 2009, Forbes said. The Coyotes were sold for $170 million after renegotiating their lease with Glendale, Arizona.

The NHL would instead operate the Devils while seeking a buyer, Forbes said. The Devils owe the league about $25 million and their payroll for the 2013-14 season is projected at about $55 million.

Bettman spoke today at Yankee Stadium to promote an outdoor series of hockey games to be played in January.

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