What a difference a few months makes for the New Jersey Devils.
They went from middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference to a Stanley Cup Finalist (before seeing their captain take his puck and go home). Now, they've gone from a team that seemed destined for bankruptcy to a franchise that's cut into its debt significantly, to the point where owner Jeff Vanderbeek is reportedly near a 2-year extension to either sell the team or settle the rest of the debt.
The first good news arrived when an Aug. 14 deadline passed without the banks forcing the team into bankruptcy. Via Fire & Ice:
A source said Vanderbeek has already worked the debt down to less than $35 million and raised roughly half of that remaining figure, leaving him needing about $18 million more to fully cover what the team owes the banks. If the lenders were to push the team into bankruptcy, they would likely recover much less than that. That gives them every reason to give Vanderbeek the time he needs to raise the rest of the money the team owes.
On Thursday, the NY Post — not exactly one to publish a sunny picture of the Devils' finances — reported that Vanderbeek is nearing a deal with lenders that will keep the team in his control for at least two years.
The proposed deal would buy Vanderbeek — who has been trying to scrounge up cash to pay off overdue loans — another two years to either refinance the team's debt or sell the club, sources said. The deal calls for combining the team's debt with separate loans against Devils Arena Entertainment, which collects concession revenue from Prudential Center events, into a single $160 million loan.
The former Lehman executive dug into his own pocket to inject fresh cash into the team and raised enough from new investors to pay off a few lenders who do not want to participate in the proposed restructuring, sources said.
No guarantees that this deal is going to get done, but certainly more positive news on the Devils' debt front than we've heard in months.