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Questions, answers on sale of Tampa Bay Lightning by Koules, Barrie

Times Staff Writer

Will outgoing Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie have a role with Jeff Vinik?

Neither Koules, Barrie nor the six limited partners will have an ownership stake.

Was there reaction from Koules or Barrie?

Koules said in a statement released by the team: "The day is bittersweet for us, as I believe we have established a strong foundation on the ice and begun to point things in a positive direction for the Lightning. … We look forward to seeing Jeff take the team from here and move it forward."

Barrie said: "As a former player and someone with hockey in his blood, it was a tough decision I had to make. I wish Vinik and the Lightning all the best in the future."

Were Palace Sports & Entertainment and Galatioto Sports Partners, both of which helped finance OK Hockey's purchase of the team, repaid?

It is believed Palace Sports took a percentage of the approximate $97 million it was owed. It is believed Galatioto Sports Partners was paid its $32 million principal plus interest.

How much money did Koules and Barrie lose?

Estimates are $60 million between them, though Koules is expected to get more back from the sale for covering Barrie when he could not meet cash calls.

What happens to Koules' and Barrie's limited partners?

All were bought out, with each getting at least a portion of his investment back.

Will Vinik be an owner/operator?

He said emphatically not. "I am the owner. I've got to find great people to run the organization. … When you have great people, they need autonomy to make decisions. I, as the owner, may be brought in on a couple of things, but I'm not going to run the organization. I'm going to have a professional do it."

Will Vinik keep coach Rick Tocchet, general manager Brian Lawton and the rest of team management?

Since Vinik is not yet the owner — the financial transaction needs to close and he needs approval from the National Hockey League's Board of Governors — he would not speculate on moves.

Who pays the bills until the financial deal is complete?

Vinik is cutting the players' paychecks.

Will Vinik immediately order that Vinny Lecavalier or other stars to be traded?

No. Beyond that, because Koules and Barrie are still the owners, all parties, including the NHL, would have to agree on any trades.

Why would Vinik expect to have any more business success with the team than Koules and Barrie did?

Vinik is purchasing the team for tens of millions of dollars less than the previous owners did. Also, he is paying cash, so he won't have to pay interest on loans in the range of $100 million, as they did. As the economy recovers, he's betting the value of the franchise will increase substantially.

Will Vinik raise ticket prices?

It's too early to say.

Was there any reaction from public officials?

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said she looks forward to meeting Vinik and hopes his financial wherewithal will quell any concerns about the team's future in Tampa.

Will new ownership affect the name of the St. Pete Times Forum?

Paul Tash, St. Petersburg Times editor, CEO and chairman, said: "We look forward to meeting Mr. Vinik and hearing about his plans for the Lightning and the building that has our name on it."

Times staff writer Bill Varian contributed to this report.

Questions, answers on sale of Tampa Bay Lightning by Koules, Barrie 02/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 11:39pm]
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