Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils

Report: Devils miss Sept. 1 loan payment, could face threat of bankruptcy


Last season was a tough one on the ice for the New Jersey Devils, but a report in The New York Post indicates that things are much rockier on the accounting spreadsheets. Josh Kosman cited an anonymous source who reports that the team missed a $100 million Sept. 1 loan payment, which is a troubling issue because it could push the franchise toward bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy problems could also reportedly extend to the Prudential Center, the Devils’ four-year-old arena located in Newark. Devils Arena Entertainment is on the hook for $180 million in payments, according to Kosman and other reports.

The source told Kosman that the Devils are “blowing up,” which we will assume isn’t slang for “on a roll” in this instance. The report indicates that the Devils’ issues are multifaceted.

The first problem is that the team’s ownership is in a state of flux, even if majority owner Jeff Vanderbeek stays in the picture. Co-owner Ray Chambers has been trying to sell his share of the team for about a year but hasn’t had any luck so far. Kosman also writes that Vanderbeek doesn’t have a good relationship with lenders, which could exacerbate the issues.

“You have a bank group that wants nothing to do with Vanderbeek,” said a source, who added they have been upset with how late they have been with financial information.

Some lenders are already considering selling their stakes to vulture investors, the source said.

“This is going to be a very difficult situation.”

The third problem is truly outside the Devils’ hands: the NBA’s lockout could ruin the New Jersey Nets’ final season at the Prudential Center. A full lockout would knock out 25 percent of the building’s 161 scheduled events, which is even more problematic considering the fact that the Nets are reportedly the reason why the building earned its first profitable year. Either way, the Nets aren’t going to be a part of a long-term solution for the Devils’ alleged financial problems.

It all seems like a very messy situation for the Devils, who haven’t responded to the report at this time. Like many other ownership/bankruptcy scenarios, this looks to be a fluid situation, so we will keep an eye out for responses from the team and any other updates.

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock
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ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat

As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?