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Bettman says Lightning sale on track



NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters after Tuesday's Board of Governors meeting that the sale of the Lightning, as well as the Predators, is "on track,'' but made it clear that if an ownership change for Tampa Bay from Palace Sports & Entertainment to Absolute Hockey Enterprises is going to be done, it will be done at the late November Governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif., or sooner depending on how soon the "due diligence,'' meaning the application process, is completed.

"There is no magic about the (next) meeting,'' Bettman said. "But I would imagine if they are going to get done, they both would be done by at least then if not at those (executive committee meetings).''

Absolute Hockey, which consists of Hollywood producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg, former Blue Jackets president Doug MacLean and Coral Springs real estate developer Jeff Sherrin, and perhaps two or three unnamed investors, have put down what is believed to be a $5-million deposit on a $200-million bid for the team, the St. Pete Times Forum lease and 5.5 adjacent acres.

The purchase agreement says if the sale is not closed by Dec. 30, Palace Sports and Absolute Hockey can squash the deal or extend the deadline. If the deal is squashed, Absolute Hockey could lose the $5-million deposit.

Before the transfer of ownership can be considered by the Board of Governors, a seven-part application that is hundreds of pages long and contains financing and background information must be completed. Bettman said that has not been done. When that is completed, the group must be interviewed by the league's executive committee. If the process goes quickly, Bettman can call for an immediate vote by fax. Otherwise the vote will be taken at the late Novemberr meeting of the full Board.

"We are not at a stage where they can be considered,'' Bettman said about both sales, "but they both seem to be on track.''

My two cents: If the transfer of ownership is approved, it will make things very interesting depending on how Tampa Bay's season is going at the time. MacLean said coach John Tortorella and GM Jay Feaster's jobs are safe. We will see how patient the propsective new owners will be if things aren't going well.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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