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Tampa Bay Lightning owners through the years

Hollywood producer Oren Koules, left, and former NHL player Len Barrie share a laugh early in their partnership.

Associated Press (2008)

Hollywood producer Oren Koules, left, and former NHL player Len Barrie share a laugh early in their partnership.

Lightning Partners Ltd. (1991-98)

The group assembled by team founder Phil Esposito was owned and operated by Kokusai Green Co. Ltd., a Japanese golf resorts company run by mysterious CEO Takashi Okubo, who, it is believed, never attended a game or otherwise came to the area. The ownership struggled through financial hardships but did manage to get funding to build the Ice Palace, now known as the St. Pete Times Forum.

Art Williams (1998-99)

The insurance billionaire who made his home in Palm Beach blustered into town with his famous "Are you a stud or a dud?'' speech and offered plenty of entertainment with his outrageous actions and remarks. He lasted only a year as owner, but during that year, he fired general manager Phil Esposito and cleared much of the debt amassed under the previous owners.

Palace Sports & Entertainment (1999-2008)

While owner Bill Davidson spent most of his time in Michigan with his favorite property, the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons, the Lightning flourished under Davidson, CEO Tom Wilson and team president Ron Campbell. Under Davidson's ownership, the Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup.

Oren Koules and Len Barrie (2008-10)

Koules, a Hollywood producer best known for the Saw horror-film series, and Barrie, a former NHL player, partnered to buy the team from Palace Sports & Entertainment in the summer of 2008, but their partnership was marred by infighting and money issues almost from the start. The two fought over control of the team, and in the end, neither could seize it before the National Hockey League had to step in and broker a deal with new owner Jeff Vinik.

Tom Jones, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Lightning owners through the years 02/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 9:33pm]

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