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Gary Bettman says no worries about Tampa Bay Lightning ownership situation

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Commissioner Gary Bettman said he planned to "chat" with Lightning co-owner Oren Koules during Monday's game with the Coyotes, but he offered little new concerning how or when the organization's ownership saga will end.

He did, however, confirm what previously had been reported, that the exclusive 60-day windows given Koules and Len Barrie to buy each other out are moot, meaning the process, for now, is open ended.

"I know that Oren and Len are continuing to focus on what they need to do going forward," Bettman said. "I'm not particularly concerned with windows right now. The franchise is meeting all its obligations and, ultimately, between the two of them, they will work something out."

Barrie's window was to be July 23 through Sept. 23; Koules' Sept. 23 through Nov. 23. Barrie vacated his window in August and, basically, handed his effort to St. Louis real estate developer Anthony Sansone Jr.

Koules, not wanting to limit options that could resolve the situation, allowed Sansone to continue due diligence while Koules recruited Miami Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene. But Greene bowed out in October.

Sansone has said he still is interested in buying the team and, by extension, buying out Koules.

As for perhaps the franchise reverting back to previous owner Palace Sports & Entertainment, which financed $67 million of the $200 million sale to OK Hockey and provided another $30 million in operating capital, Bettman said, "Theoretically it's possible, but I don't envision that being the case.

"But that's why people I think can take comfort in the fact that Palace stands behind the franchise," he added. "That's why the franchise isn't at risk. So, all that speculation about it being at risk is unfounded."

Also not found is a timetable for ending the process.

"The timetable is really Oren and Len's," Bettman said, and added, "If there is uncertainty, if ownership is not agreeing on how to run things and that's having an impact, then you want to see that fixed as quickly as possible."

OHLUND OUT: D Mattias Ohlund was scratched with a right foot injury he said was sustained during Saturday's game with the Kings when his skate "got caught in the ice."

Ohlund, who tried but could not participate in the morning skate and is wearing a walking boot, said he had not had X-rays or an MRI exam.

"We don't think it's anything serious," he said.

MINOR MOVES: F Ryan Craig and D Matt Smaby were reassigned to AHL Norfolk, reducing the roster to 21, two below the limit. There was no indication the team would immediately fill those spots, but coach Rick Tocchet said it could soon add a forward to the current 12.

Craig played three games after being called up from Norfolk on Nov. 5. Because 30 days had not passed, Craig did not have to clear waivers to be demoted. Smaby, who has not played an NHL game this season, had to approve a second conditioning assignment.

ODDS AND ENDS: Monday's game was the 1,300th in Lightning history (478-639-71 with 112 ties). … LW Stephane Veilleux got a shaving cream pie in the face at the morning skate to celebrate his 28th birthday. "It was fun," he said.

Gary Bettman says no worries about Tampa Bay Lightning ownership situation 11/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 6:27am]
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