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Jeff Vanderbeek takes 100 percent ownership of Devils, refinances debt

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com
Vanderbeek poses with Devils fans outside the Rock. (Getty Images)

Devils majority owner Jeff Vanderbeek is now the only owner after refinancing the team's debt and buying out the other 47-percent stake.

That's a far cry from where we last left the Devils' financial situation; it was a hot mess.

Vanderbeek was facing mountains of reported debt and some said the team was headed for bankruptcy, even though Vanderbeek strongly denied that. Not long after, there was a deal reportedly in the works with an invester to get the team out of debt, much of which came from the funding for Prudential Center.

On Thursday things were all cleared up.

Per Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, the Devils' financial situation is all squared away. Not only has the team's debt been refinanced, but Vanderbeek is now the sole owner of the franchise after he completed the buyout of the other ownership stake.

"Today's announcement is good news for Devils fans though I fully recognize fans' frustration with the work stoppage," Vanderbeek said. "Our future is now secure and we can be confident of continued on-ice success. Our team has gone to the Stanley Cup Final five times in the last 17 years and following the most recent run to the Stanley Cup Final last year, we are excited about our future—for Jersey's team and Prudential Center, home to the 2013 NHL Draft.

"I am grateful to Mike Gilfillan and Brick City Hockey for our former partnership. Together we shared a passion that led to the building of the Prudential Center -- truly a shining jewel of a facility and in my view one of the best arenas in the entire world. The Rock is a great legacy for which we will always be proud."

This is a nice turn of events for the Devils; it returns some level of stability to what has been a very uncertain situation. Because of the team's money concerns this last summer, they weren't ever really considered to be big players in re-signing Zach Parise. Although they did remain in the hunt until the end, they just couldn't (or possibly wouldn't) pay what Minnesota did.

There's no telling yet exactly what kind of shape the franchise will be in now that the squabbling owners have been minimized to one, but Gulitti says it's possible Vanderbeek could bring in more partners down the line. Considering the troubles the Devils just went through, that would probably make fans in New Jersey feel a little more comfortable.

It's kind of interesting that Vanderbeek gets the money to do all of this four months into a lockout, but then again the Devils haven't been a money-making team over the years, despite their success. That was actually something the Devils touched on in their official release.

The Devils organization is pleased to announce that it has completed a refinancing of its credit facilities with CIT Group acting as lead arranger. The organization believes that its successful refinancing during a work stoppage demonstrates the strength of the Devils franchise and the Prudential Center, enabling it to continue to execute on its business plan. In addition, in connection with the refinancing, Jeff Vanderbeek and his affiliated entities purchased the stakes of his co-owners, Brick City Hockey and its related entities.

Of course none of it means they are out of the water completely, just because the debt was refinanced doesn't mean it was paid off. That's where other investors could come in. But at least untenable situation between owners is taken care of and there appears to be a path to getting on their financial feet again.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @StubitsCBS on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

 
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