What's next with ownership?

via cdn2.sbnation.com

We're nine games into the NHL season and the last thing fans should want to do is put the sideshow of f ownership on the front burner again...  That's a distraction that is not welcome when you'd much rather focus on items that matter to this team, like sealing-the-deal in games instead of allowing late goals, power play percentage, and shootout (non-naked, thank you) improvements..

Those are much more worthy pastimes for Lightning fans to talk about right now, but for the sake of reporting news (or, more of a reminding the masses), we must interrupt our regularly scheduled hockey talk to bring up the trials and tribulations of Oren Koules, Len Barrie and OK (Not Quite) Hockey.

You may recall the little spat between owners...  Koules in control, Barrie wants control, Gary Bettman wants the situation resolved, Palace Sports wants their money paid to them, and Jim Balsillie is a prick. 

Both Barrie and Koules were given 60-day windows to buy the other out.  Barrie's window closed in early September (though Koules waived Barrie's deadline -- giving him the opportunity to get a bid together without time constraints) and with November only days away, Koules own window of opportunity is fast closing.  

Yeah, it's been 120 days and things still are not resolved.

Of course, this reminder may be moot if these windows-of-opportunity have been waived.  Koules and Barrie may continue to try to buy each other out until one does so. 

Last we heard, Jeff Greene -- billionaire real estate investor -- had been recruited by Koules to partner-up on the Lightning and help him buy out Barrie.  Greene submitted an application to the NHL about becoming an owner and a review process was supposed to take place.

We've heard nothing since.

On the other side of the fray, Len Barrie had been courting Anthony Sansone Jr. -- Missouri real estate billionaire -- to join forces and buy out Koules.  Sansone was taking a much more cautious approach to the situation and was looking at things business-first.

Business-first means the focus should be on the arena and property in ownership control under the terms of the Tampa Bay Lightning's lease, operations of the franchise, and then the team itself.  There are a lot of numbers to crunch and a lot of angles to look at things from... 

Who we haven't heard from in all this is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who may simply be happy that the status quo is not pandemonium.  Indeed, there has been a improved level of stability with the club since Gary's meeting with Koules and Barrie in June this past summer -- both from the operations side of the Lightning as well as with the team itself.  With the team operating in a stable and consistent fashion, the status-quo remaining in place is not as big a liability to the league as is the unresolved fiasco in Phoenix.

But if the league holds fast to the closing of the buyout window, the status-quo could change in a heartbeat.   Or both Koules and Barrie could decide that they can indeed co-exist under the current arrangement of things:  With Brian Lawton generally in charge of team operations, Koules in charge of day-to-day business and Barrie being someone necessary to go to regarding any major investments by the team or the franchise.

Not likely, seeing it was a clash of egos that caused the Lightning ownership mess to begin with...  But it isn't  out of the question for cooler heads to prevail.

Just don't expect it to happen.

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