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McKenzie: No deal done for Lightning sale - yet

Bob McKenzie
2/2/2010 4:16:47 PM
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There has been a lot said and written about the Tampa Bay ownership situation and how Jeffrey Vinik of Boston is on the verge of purchasing the team from Len Barrie and Oren Koules.

Here, as near as I can tell, is where it currently stands.

The negotiations are continuing and a deal is not done yet. It's moving in the right direction, but it's not there yet.

It, apparently, is at a very delicate stage where it could be done in, say, the next week or two or it could not get done at all. In other words, it's still in a state of flux. To suggest it's basically a done deal incorrectly overlooks that it's complex and could still fall apart. To suggest it won't get done isn't right either. None of that makes for sexy headlines, but that, I'm told, is the reality of the situation.

If Vinik closes the deal, it's doubtful either Oren Koules or Len Barrie would stay on in any capacity.

Amid rumors that Vinik is actually more interested in buying the NBA's Detroit Pistons and the sporting empire of the Davidson estate, if that's the case, it's not something the NHL is aware of and doesn't pass the sniff test since it was either Vinik who went to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman or Bettman who went to him on the Lightning deal and if the NBA were the end game for Vinik, that would have been clear by now.

As for what all this means to the future of Vinny Lecavalier in Tampa Bay, know this for starters: Lecavalier has never at any time been asked to waive his No Movement Clause.

And as long as the negotiatons are where they are at right now – that is, at a highly sensitive stage – in order for Lecavalier to be asked to waive, the request would have to be approved and agreed upon by three parties – Koules and Barrie and Vinik.

The odds of Koules and Barrie agreeing on something, maybe anything, are not terrific and there's no truth at all to the reports that one of Vinik's pre-conditions for buying the team is to move Lecavalier. Those who know him say he's mortified at the notion he might be perceived as someone who wants Lecavalier gone because that's simply not the truth.

So, as it stands at this moment, engaging in Lecavalier trade speculation is more a flight of fancy than reality.

Bob McKenzie

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