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(Reuters) - New Jersey Devils majority owner Jeff Vanderbeek completed a refinancing of the team's debt on Thursday, assuming full control of the National Hockey League club.
Vanderbeek, a former Lehman Brothers executive who purchased the team in 2004, made the announcement as NHL officials and locked out players were meeting in New York trying to thrash out a new collective bargaining agreement in an effort to keep the entire 2012-2013 season from being cancelled.
Players have been locked out since mid-September and the league has cancelled games through January 14, more than 50 percent of the regular season which was scheduled to start in October.
"Today's announcement is good news for Devils fans though I fully recognize fans' frustration with the work stoppage," Vanderbeek said in a statement. "Our future is now secure and we can be confident of continued on-ice success.
"Our team has gone to the Stanley Cup final five times in the last 17 years and following the most recent run to the Stanley Cup final last year, we are excited about our future."
The Devils said that the CIT Group acted as lead arranger of the refinancing with Vanderbeek also acquiring the stakes of his co-owners, Brick City Hockey and its related entities.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Greg Stutchbury