The ongoing Tampa Bay Lightning ownership saga may be about to take another interesting twist.
According to a report in The Hockey News, the NHL is negotiating the sale of the Lightning, as well as land adjacent to the St. Petes-Times Forum from the OK Hockey Group to Jeffrey Vinik for an estimated price of $170 million.
Since acquiring the team from former owner Bill Davidson in 2008, the relationship between OK Hockey's co-owners, Oren Koules and Len Barrie, has deteriorated. There has been a great deal of public bickering between the pair over the direction of the team recently.
The 50-year old Vinik is a Boston based hedge fund manager who is also a limited partner in the Boston Red Sox. His net worth reportedly exceeds $500 million.
The Hockey News is also speculating that if Vinik buys the team that he will likely attempt to cut payroll, meaning rumours of Vincent Lecavalier's departure may heat up once again. The Lightning's captain is scheduled to earn $10 million for the next six seasons with a salary cap hit of $7.7 million per season. The possibility exists that Lecavalier may be made available before the NHL's trade deadline prior to Vinik potentially taking control of the team.
Lecavalier has a no movement clause in his contract and has previously stated that he would like to remain in Tampa, however there had been plenty of discussion of a potential move to Montreal for more than a year.