Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lightning to be Sold

Holy blind side batman!!! Didn't see this one coming.

From AP:

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A group led by former Florida Panthers coach Doug MacLean has agreed to buy the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The NHL team says a group called Absolute Hockey Enterprises has signed a purchase agreement with current owner Palace Sports and Entertainment.

The deal includes the leasing rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and adjacent properties.

The sale is subject to approval by the NHL's board of governors.

Sources tell TSN MacLean will be the Chairman and CEO of the Lightning while Jay Feaster will stay on as GM and John Tortorella will remain as head coach.

Absolute Hockey also includes Jeff Sherrin and Oren Koules. Team spokesman Jay Preble said Sherrin is a Coral Springs real estate developer and Koules a TV and movie producer.

MacLean coached Florida to the Stanley Cup final in 1996. He was fired in April as the Columbus Blue Jackets president and GM.

The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

From the Lightning:

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning will host a press conference today at 11:00 a.m. in the XO VIP Club on the arena level of the St. Pete Times Forum to announce the sale of the team, the leasehold rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and adjacent properties. Thomas S. Wilson, Chairman and Governor of the Lightning, will introduce a new ownership group, Absolute Hockey Enterprises, which includes Doug MacLean, Jeff Sherrin and Oren Koules. A purchase agreement has been signed by Absolute Hockey, but the ownership transfer is subject to approval by the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors.

WHO: Tom Wilson, Palace Sports & Entertainment
Doug MacLean, Jeff Sherrin and Oren Koules, Absolute Hockey Enterprises

WHAT: Press Conference Announcing Ownership Transfer

WHERE: XO VIP Club, St. Pete Times Forum

WHEN: 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Media members should park in the VIP West lot at the St. Pete Times Forum, adjacent to the Chrysler-Jeep Plaza, and proceed across the plaza into the XO VIP Club entrance. Doors will open at 10 a.m.

Koules is a TV and Film producer with credits such as the Saw movies and the TV series Two and a Half Men. Sherrin's development company Venture Outlet Centers, specializes in the building of outlet malls.

So now the speculation. Is the team going to be moved? Will they be given a chance to spend more? From the looks of things on the surface, it appears the team will stay in Tampa. The group included a Coral Springs developer, so having a local guy as owner may elude to this. Keep in mind however, that Kansas City and Houston are looking to get a team. Whether or not Feaster will be given any more money to spend, the Bolts are currently $6 mil under the NHL cap, is yet to be seen. It would be nice to see the new group free up some money so that Feaster can address the goaltending issues.

Formal announcement to be made at 11am press conference. Stay tuned Bolts fans...

Listen live at 11:00 on 620 WDAE

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