Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Bettman discusses Lightning situation
Posted Feb 20, 2009 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Feb 20, 2009 at 08:28 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. - League commissioner Gary Bettman took in Friday nights game at the RBC Center, in part to tour the area for potential consideration for Raleigh to host a future All-Star game, but took some time out to address the media before faceoff.
Bettman was asked about the persisting rumors that OK Hockey is in serious financial trouble to the point where former owner Bill Davidson and Palace Sports would be forced to resume control of the franchise.
“There is nothing to address there,’’ Bettman said. “I don’t understand why people say that. It’s no secret that they did some of the financing of the deal, which happens to be a good thing because it means the franchise is in solid financial condition. That’s why I don’t think people should be focused or worried about it.’‘
Essentially, Bettman said the key is for everyone involved to remain patient and allow owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie to implement whatever plan they have in mind.
“You have very committed owners there,’’ Bettman said. “They are passionate about the club and they want to make sure that this team is performing on and off the ice as well as possible. But as with new owners in any sport, there is always a learning curve and when you make a lot of changes sometimes people tend to make judgment before you get to see the full effects.’‘
Despite all the rumors, despite a recent restructured financing deal with Palace Sports and even on the heels of charging building employees for parking starting on March 1, Bettman said there are no warning signs of shaky financial ground.
“Teams all go through up and down phases,’’ the commissioner said. “You make it sound like the team is in some kind of trouble when it’s not.’’