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Commissioner Gary Bettman maintains the status quo in Tampa Bay Lightning front office ... for now



When Tuesday's meeting betwen NHL commisioner Gary Bettman and the Tampa Bay Lightning's feuding co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie was over, the status quo in the Lightning front office apparently was maintained in terms of hockey operations.

No one from the league would comment, and neither would Koules nor Barrie. One person with knowledge of the situation begged off by saying he was under a "super gag order." But indications are that the hierarchy remains the same with Koules as CEO and governor and Brian Lawton as general manager and the point man when it comes to hockey operations. The belief is that both Koules and Barrie have to sign off on major player moves brought to them by Lawton, which is how it has been. That means if a potential trade for captain Lecavalier is discussed, it would need the approval of both owners and Barrie has made it clear he wants Lecavalier in the franchise, calling him a "generational" player.    

But here is the interesting part. It seems Bettman is doing some marriage counseling as well, apparently giving the parties some time to work out a workable ownership structure that eliminates some of the rancor. There are only so many options there. One could buy out the other. There could be new investors. They could work out something between themselves. But it is clear something has to be done to alleviate the tension. How quickly, or slowly that process will take is unclear.

The meeting at the league offices in New York was called to determine whether Koules or Barrie would have the authority to make decisions for the franchise, and not just hockey decisions but business decisions as well. Koules has been responsible for much of the day-to-day running of the club since OK Hockey took control about a year ago. Barrie has spent most of his time in Victoria, British Columbia, managing and trying to sell his Bear Mountain Resort.

The dispute centers around philosophical differences in direction of the team which you read all about in today's column by John Romano.

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


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