05 February 2010
The day has finally come:
The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that Jeff Vinik has agreed to purchase the hockey club, the arena lease and the two parcels of land beside it. The deal still needs to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors, but that is expected to go through in the next two to four weeks. Vinik is paying for the franchise in cash (meaning not on a loan) so the deal is expected to be approved.
The deal comes in time for Vinik to fund this months payroll instead of the NHL advancing the team more money. It is believed that Vinik paid substantially less than the $170 million reported earlier this week by The Hockey News, maybe around the $150 million mark? In the end Palace Sports will be happy to recoup some of their money back, Oren and Len are gone and the Lightning are headed in a new direction.
This does not guarantee that the Lightning will turn in to a winning franchise, but hopefully a hire of the correct people to run the franchise can restore some faith in their fans. And by hire, I mean hire a competant GM after he fires Lawton.