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NJ Devils financial mess was messier than you thought

Greg Wyshynski
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When the New Jersey Devils were sold for a reported $320 million sale to Joshua Harris and David Blitzer, there was much rejoicing from Jersey fans and head-scratching from others.

The team, after all, faced mountainous debt that some deemed too toxic for anyone to desire to purchase them. Luckily, the lure of the Prudential Center was enough for the two Philadelphia 76ers owners to commit to keeping the Devils in Jersey.

But hoo-boy, was it tough sledding for the Devils under Jeff Vanderbeek. The Newark Star-Ledger on Sunday, via court documents, revealed some troubling and salacious claims made by and against the team from contractors that worked at Prudential Center -- all of the problems stemming from their financial issues.

The lowlights:

- Newark Nut was given exclusive nut-selling rights inside the arena, but claimed the Devils “failed to install a nut roaster with an exhaust system as promised.” The company sued the team, but later dropped the suit citing legal fees.

- Centerplate, which preceded Aramark as the Devils’ primary food and beverage concession, sued the team and claimed the Devils “fabricated” accounting disputes to avoid paying its bills, according to the Ledger. The suit was dismissed in 2012.

- The most outlandish one? Pritchard Sports and Entertainment of Maryland, which provided cleaning services, claimed that the Devils had “unjustifiably disparaged” the company on a hearing before a panel. The team claimed the cleaners would show up drunk, sleep through shifts, steal from Devils employees and “finish off half-empty alcoholic beverages left behind by fans during their cleanup.” The suit was eventually settled.

- Read the full report from the Ledger. And hope all of this has been left behind with the new ownership, for the team’s sake.

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