NEWARK, N.J. (Lighthouse Press) _ After reports surfaced of missed payments and debts amounting to over $200 million, the New Jersey Devils have announced that they will partner with a group of "legitimate businessmen" in order to finally settle their books.
"This arrangement will finally allow our team the financial flexibility we need to compete," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a conference call with media this morning. "These partners aren't simply business associates. They're more like a family."
Although the names of the businessmen are being withheld per Devils' team policy, Lamoriello confirmed on the call that the partners are "100% legitimate" and indicated that they could be based in either the sanitation or construction industries.
"These men are New Jersey natives and Devils season ticket holders and that's important to us," Lamoriello said. "They have had great success in waste management and civil engineering and are pillars of the community. But we don't see this as a monetary transaction. We prefer to think of it as 'this thing of ours.'"
News broke last week of the Devils missing the first interest payment on loans they had restructured in December. Managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek owes money to both the investors he bought out for control of the team as well as on the team-controlled Prudential Center. The Devils' total debt is reported to be anywhere between $170 and $230 million.
With 11 free agents to either sign or replace this off-season, New Jersey needs to stabilize their financial situation quickly.
The Devils' new partners will provide the team the money they need upfront in exchange for weekly payments that Lamoriello curiously described as "vigorous." The 70-year-old team president and GM sounded distressed during the short conference call, but was adamant that he was in total agreement with the arrangement.
"The New Jersey Devils' hands are no longer bound. These men deserve our tribute," he said. "Neither I nor the other members of the executive board plan on talking out of school on this matter. Everyone is dedicated to this cause as if their lives depend on it."
The loan is expected to be completed this week but the Devils promised to be available if the new partners ever ask them for a favor.
This is one part satire and one part tribute to the great James Gandolfini, who is gone too soon. If you only know him as Tony Soprano, do yourself a favor and at least watch "Get Shorty."