NHL forcing a resolution between feuding Lightning owners Staff

8/9/2009 1:16:48 PM

Feuding Tampa Bay Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie may soon settle their differences with the help of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, Bettman has set up a process whereby the squabbling co-owners can buy each other out.

Barrie, according to the report, has the first shot in an exclusive 60-day window that reportedly runs out in September. Should Barrie fail, Koules would get his chance.

Along with the purchase price of the franchise, the Times reports that the winning parties must also handle the substantial debt obligations to former owner Palace Sports & Entertainment.

Should both sides fail to come to an agreement, the Times reports that the league may look for a buyer, or perhaps Palace Sports CEO Tom Wilson will take back control of the organization.

Koules and Barrie, as well as general manager Brian Lawton, met with Bettman in New York in mid-June, when the commissioner demanded the owners work out their differences. At the meeting, Bettman re-affirmed that Lawton is making hockey decisions for the franchise and for any transactions that would require ownership approval, he is obliged to get approval from both Koules and Barrie.