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"I'm not going to lie, we had a group in the running for this. We lost to Koules, and we lost to...

"I'm not going to lie, we had a group in the running for this. We lost to Koules, and we lost to (current owner) Jeff (Vinik). We raised an awful lot of money. We had enough money to buy five franchises. I don't think we got outbid. I think (NHL commissioner Gary) Bettman thought Jeff was the right guy. And so do I. "We were close (to buying the team). We were really close. We went to New York, met with attorneys and different people. We stopped short of Gary because we wanted to be absolutely sure before we got to him.'' ... "I didn't want this team to move. I didn't like the way it was going. It was almost like Koules and Barrie were trying to run the team into the ground so they could move it. There was no way I could let that happen, not if there was one possibility I could stop it.''

Phil Esposito, in an interview with St. Pete Times Columnist Gary Shelton
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