The NHL is in discussions with former Tampa Bay Lightning owner Oren Koules and retired player Brian Lawton to become minority shareholders in the New Jersey Devils, according to a report by Josh Kosman and Larry Brooks of the New York Post on Tuesday.
This development coincides with a report from Kosman on Monday, which stated that Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek missed a $3 million interest payment in April. The missed payment came four months after Vanderbeek restructured his debt at the end of December. The team's owner struck a deal at the end of 2012, which refinanced the club's debts and allowed him to take over majority control of the franchise from his partners.
In doing so, Vanderbeek combined the debts of Devils Arena Entertainment, which includes a reported $170 million loan owed to lenders. According to Kosman, the team is looking to raise as much as $20 million by taking on a minority shareholder.
That's where Koules and Lawton come into play. The two are debating how much they are willing to contribute to paying off the debt. In addition, Koules and Lawton are believed to have an option to eventually take over majority control of the franchise if they are able to cover the loses incurred by the franchise to a certain point. However, Vanderbeek also has the opportunity to remain in charge in the event that he can turn around the team's finances in the next few years.
Brooks and Kosman were declined comment by the Devils and the NHL, while Koules and Lawton did not respond to requests.