Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 08/16/14 at 02:22 PM ET
Unlike the team's financial struggles under the Jeffrey Vanderbeek adminstration, however, the fact that the Devils are going to lose money this season is actually good news.
Gulitti reports that "new" owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer are spending a significant amount of money cleaning up the legal messes Vanderbeek left them, and they're also investing a good chunk of money in growing the Devils' "business brand," reestablishing ties with local businesses and significantly bolstering the team's hockey operations personnel:
[O]n the business side (non-hockey operations), O’Neil says the team had just 76 employees immediately following the sale. Blitzer said the number is “more than double” that now after O’Neil has spent the last year building up his department to put it in a position to be better able to grow the business of the Devils.
“You just didn’t have personnel there,” Blitzer said. “It wasn’t like anyone was doing anything negatively in that sense. They literally did not have positions filled that were entirely necessary to run a business like this. We kind of found that a little bit shocking in terms of how depleted it was at the time we went in.”
In addition to having to pay off some arena vendors that had not been paid due to lawsuits, Blitzer and Harris found the organization had not done enough within the “New Jersey business community” when they looked at “the dynamics and how many people we were touching all the way from the Fortune 50 companies that are in New Jersey and the dynamics with the team down to what is really the guts of American business but certainly in New Jersey as well, which is the small and medium size businesses.”
“That’s where the job creation is, that’s where growth is, that’s where fan base is and we just need to continue to do a better job,” Blitzer said. “And we are, but again we’re starting from really a tough place to drive that forward.”
In terms of hockey operations, Lamoriello suggested he was handcuffed in some ways by the team’s financial woes in the seasons immediately before Harris and Blitzer arrived, saying he “reported to the league for two years” and comparing it to the situation in Phoenix, where the NHL owned the team until it a new owner was found last summer.
“It was like Phoenix from a hockey standpoint. That was fact,” said Lamoriello, who repeatedly denied in the past that the team’s financial situation impacted how he ran things. “You had to do things in a different way. But that’s not an excuse. … We still had the people in my opinion to get done what we had to get done.”
Now, though, Lamoriello says, “The resources are there and we have no excuses. The support is there in every area.”
Gulitti, Blitzer and Lamoriello continue at extensive length...
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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