NHL

Report: Devils face $80 million debt

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NEWARK, N.J.

The New Jersey Devils hockey team is months late on an $80 million debt payment to lenders and looking for a balance-sheet miracle -- that is, the securitization of its long-term TV deal with the MSG Network.

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But two sources close to the situation say it appears that the money-losing franchise, which has been shopping the deal with the help of Goldman Sachs since at least November, is having trouble getting the deal done.

It will be hard for owner Jeff Vanderbeek, the 54-year-old former Lehman Brothers executive, to get the deal done by the end of the month, the sources added.

That date is key, people familiar with the situation said, because it serves as an unofficial deadline set by the NHL to resolve the potentially-crushing fiscal problem.

"[NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman basically told him to figure out a resolution by mid-February, or he'll do what needs to be done," a source said, noting a league takeover is not out of the question.

An NHL spokesman said it would be inaccurate to say that it gave Vanderbeek an ultimatum.

Lenders, if they do not see progress toward solving the $80 million problem, may put the team in default next month.

"There is radio silence out of Goldman [on the securitization]," a source said. That is not a good sign, the person added.

A Goldman spokesman declined to comment, while Chambers did not return calls.

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