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Sale of Tampa Bay Lightning to Boston hedge fund manager could happen soon

TAMPA — Negotiations continued Friday as Boston hedge fund manager Jeff Vinik apparently edged closer to buying the Lightning.

There was no official word, but speculation was that a deal being brokered by the NHL could happen quickly. Lightning co-owner Len Barrie could not be reached for comment about his presumed effort to put together a competing bid.

Kent Hughes, the agent for Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier, did react to a Hockey News story that said if Vinik takes control, he could ask Lecavalier to waive his no-move clause as a way for the team to cut costs.

Lecavalier, 29, with 14 goals and 52 points, is in the first year of an 11-year, $85 million deal that pays $10 million this season.

"I have never spoken with Jeff," Hughes said. "I have not heard from anybody else within the Tampa Bay Lightning organization in regards to Vinny Lecavalier, period. It seems that any time there's mention of the Lightning outside Tampa Bay, it involves speculation about a Vinny Lecavalier trade.

"After two years of speculation, we've grown immune to it and will stick with the facts. The facts are, not a single person connected to this financial bid or to the organization has contacted us about Vinny being traded."

The tumult adds to an emotional and uplifting time for the Lightning, which climbed back into the playoff chase with a three-game winning streak, which ended with Friday's loss to the Ducks.

Vinik, 50, a minority partner in the Red Sox, managed the Fidelity Magellan Fund in the 1990s. He is the principal owner of Vinik Asset Management.

It does not appear the New Jersey native has a hockey background or that he is bringing in other investors. As for his plans for Lecavalier, if any, they are moot until the four-time All-Star and Lightning captain is contacted.

"I've said it a million times," Hughes said. "Because Vinny has a no-move clause, my assumption is that if somebody intended to move Vinny Lecavalier, the first thing they would do is verify whether or not he would be open to waiving his no-move clause. And that has not happened."

Sale of Tampa Bay Lightning to Boston hedge fund manager could happen soon 01/29/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 11:15pm]
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