Hockey is getting ready to freeze out New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is preparing to take control of the money-losing hockey franchise in the event Vanderbeek fails to refinance the Devils' debt before a looming Aug. 14 deadline.
In recent days, the commissioner's office has told potential suitors to be ready in case he moves on the team and pushes Vanderbeek aside, a source close to the situation said.
Vanderbeek is near a deal to sell a majority stake to a mystery investor, which would allow him to keep control of the Eastern Conference champions, one source said. The proceeds from a sale would be used to repay lenders much of the $77 million in past-due debt.
But while Bettman has said publicly that he expects the Devils' financial situation to be resolved soon, his behind-the-scenes moves suggest he's far from confident that a deal will get done.
His skepticism shouldn't come as a surprise. Since the Devils missed a principal payment ...