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Ex-owner's financing of Lightning sale bigger than thought

TAMPA — Palace Sports & Entertainment financed $70-million of the $200-million sale of the Lightning to OK Hockey. That is about $20-million more than previously believed.

"We're just filling the role of a lender right now," Palace Sports CEO Tom Wilson said. "We just had to step in to get it done."

That Palace Sports is involved isn't unusual. Several owners have self-financed sales of their teams, including Molson Coors when it sold the Canadiens to businessman George Gillett.

It is notable, though, that the company that wanted so badly out of the hockey business still is so entwined and, in what is believed an unlikely scenario, could regain control of the team if OK Hockey does not repay the loan.

Len Barrie, one of OK Hockey's principal owners, said given the uncertainty of the banking industry, having a deep-pocket company as lender is a blessing and called his dealings with Palace Sports "fantastic."

OK Hockey lost financing from two investment banks while it tried to buy the team.

OK Hockey came up with $100-million of the purchase price. Palace Sports and Galatioto Sports Partners, a New York sports investment firm, provided the rest.

The plan is to pay off Palace Sports' interest-bearing loan and make Galatioto Sports the sole lender. That won't happen until the credit crisis eases. Meanwhile, Barrie said OK Hockey has a three-year plan to make the team profitable.

Palace Sports has said it lost $80-million in the nine years it owned the team.

"There's a solid business here," Barrie said. "We think we can turn it around."

KRAJICEK PLAYS: D Lukas Krajicek resolved his visa issue and made it from Vancouver to Tampa in time to play against Carolina. Given the timing coach Barry Melrose said was "not ideal," Krajicek's bar was low.

"We just expect him to compete," Melrose said.

Krajicek played 15:26 and was on the power play and penalty kill.

ODDS AND ENDS: After going 0-for-9 on the power play, Tampa Bay was 2-for-7 Saturday. … LW Ryan Malone had two of the Lightning's nine minor penalties and has 15 penalty minutes in three games. … C Steven Stamkos had just 6:05 of ice time because of so much special-teams play. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon, on video, said, "Let's play hockey," and Vinny Lecavalier was on video at the Trop wishing the Rays good luck. . … The 80 shots Tampa Bay faced in two losses to the Rangers in Europe were the second-most allowed in consecutive season-opening games. The Lightning faced 81 shots in 1993-94 against the Devils (43) and Rangers (38). ... C Ryan Craig (groin), LW David Koci and W Jason Ward were scratched.

Ex-owner's financing of Lightning sale bigger than thought 10/11/08 [Last modified: Saturday, October 11, 2008 11:56pm]

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