Lightning ownership situation back in spotlight

Len Barrie and Oren Koules together on ice. photo via Tampa Bay Business Journal

I've been avoiding it. Honestly, it's turning cliché (or simply repetitive).  The Lightning are not supposed to be identified by ownership issues and that's how ti's turning.

Here's just some of the stories that have been running since last spring regarding the Bolts ownership situation:  Barrie and Koules were not getting along, OK Hockey in turmoil, Bolts owners meet with Gary Bettman to clear up feud while Gary lays down the law.

Barrie had to pay back money to Koules and produce a line of credit which was done and done.  Then Len Barrie gets accused of  shady finance mumbo-jumbo.  He had 60 days or so to buy out Koules and insists, even with the arrival of the end of his window, that he could still do it.

Lets throw in a dirty, sourceless Hockey's Future rumor from Friday night that the team was sold in an emergency sale orchestrated by Bettman and you have one grand distraction following around the club.  A distraction that takes away from the promise of the upcoming season.

But unlike Tom Benjamin's assertion earlier this month that there is absolutely no one with any shred of interest in investing in the Lightning, two names have emerged backing Barrie or Koules respectively:  Real Estate and business billionaire Anthony Sansone Jr. (with Barrie) and Jeff Greene, who was courted by Oren Koules... 

And Koules is letting this continue to play out, waiving the 60-day buyout period stuff from a report this morning from the St. Petersburg Times.

Len Barrie said he gave up his exclusive window to try to buy the Lightning in late August, a month before it was to expire.

Barrie also confirmed that co-owner Oren Koules, who technically is in his own exclusive buy period and within his rights to shut down any Barrie effort, is allowing St. Louis real estate developer Anthony Sansone Jr. to continue trying to put together a deal that would keep Barrie as a minority owner.

Koules declined comment, but Barrie said Koules' move to nullify his own exclusive buy period is logical.

"If Oren can come up with something and satisfy me, I would do it, and if I came up with an offer, he would do it," Barrie said Tuesday. "We're both trying to do what's best for the team and protect our investment."

First off, this report verifies that Barrie had given up his window of opportunity to buy out Oren Koules in August -- a report by the Globe and Mail had suggested as much, but was contradicted at the time of publication by the revelation of Sansone Jr. exploring ownership potential with Barrie. 

Meanwhile, Koules recruitment attempts over the summer has bared fruit with Real Estate billionaire Jeff Greene.   Greene has reportedly filed paperwork with the NHL about potential ownership...  Oh, yeah, neither Greene nor Sansone Jr. and would require financing to buy out parties involved with OK Hockey.  

...And erase the team's financial connection to Palace Sports and Entertainment at the same time.  Palace Sports has largely self-financed the sale of the Bolts from their own ownership to OK Hockey.

The merry-go-round continues to turn here.  When it stops is anyone's guess and who will be left on the ride continues to be unclear.

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