In a deal which had the final touches completed just mere minutes before it was formally announced, the New Jersey Devils are now the property of a group headed by Joshua Harris and David Blitzer.
"I stand here today at Prudential Center with my friend, and fellow co-owner and partner David Blitzer to share with you the sense of excitement we have as the new owners of the New Jersey Devils," Harris said. "We look forward to building excellence on and off the ice for the fans, this city and the state of New Jersey. We have an incredible opportunity in front of us to revitalize this organization, we can rethink the way business is done and infuse the franchise with the resources and talent, both on the hockey and business side and the experience necessary to give the Devils a chance to achieve long-term growth and sustainability at an elite level."
The new ownership comes in with not only deeper pockets, but with New Jersey ties as well.
"What makes this extra special for me, is that i'm a Jersey guy," Blitzer said. "I was born and raised in New Jersey, my grandparents grew up in New Jersey and my parents still live in the home that I group up in my entire life. I know that sense of pride that comes from being from and supporting your team, and passion and support of the Devils fans is what makes it even more exciting.
"This is a phenomenal franchise and over the 26 years that Lou Lamoriello has been in charge of the New Jersey Devils they are [one of] the most winning teams in the entire National Hockey League, and that is extremely impressive," he said.
Credit has to be given to what Jeff Vanderbeek was able to do in bringing the team to Newark and beginning the revitalization of the downtown area. There are businesses popping up all over the area around Prudential Center and as a definite sign of growth, two new hotels have opened, and Panasonic has moved their North American headquarters to the Brick City.
Now, with new ownership, they can continue to help the city grow while at the same time, further the Devils brand. Also in the fold is former Madison Square Garden president, and current Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O'Neil, who will serve in the same capacity with the Devils.
"[Harris and Blitzer] are very successful, but do they have the resources, do they want to win? That's what you want to know when you work in this business, how important is it? They are competitive and they want to win, and they have the resources to win," O'Neil said.
Long-time Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello spoke highly of the new owners. He will serve the team in the same capacity that he has had for almost three decades.
"Over the last ten days or so I spent a considerable amount of time with them because there were a lot of decisions that had to be made and every time I spoke with them I came back more and more impressed, not only with who they are and what they've accomplished, but what their vision is," Lamoriello said, who has now served as General Manager under four different owners.
When asked if the new ownership means having more to spend, Lamoriello was his usual short and succinct self.
"They are committed to winning and I think that's all you have to say, but spending money is not always what will allow you to win or have success, but spending it the right way and also having the ability to ability to do something when necessary is also important," he said.
Harris and Blitzer inherit one of the most stable situations in sports with the leadership of Lamoriello, who is regarded by many as one of the most successful GMs in sports. They were quick to acknowledge the importance of such a prominent figure.
"I would love for Lou Lamoriello to continue to do what he's done for 26 years," Blitzer said. "I couldn't be happier and you feel calm when you go to sleep at night knowing that it's taken care of."
"I like to say we own the team and we own the business, but frankly, it's a communal asset in a lot of ways, and I actually view us as Stewards of that," said Blitzer, who grew up in Scotch Plains. "It's a very subtenant business that is broader than your average business because of the way it touches lives in a very different way. There's nothing like sports and I always say to my children, there's nothing like the passion and the feeling at a sporting event."
If there is any idea as to how committed the new owners are to winning, they certainly made it clear what their goals are, both describing themselves as "competitive."
"We're really excited to take this team to another level," Blitzer said. "Thats an exciting thing to do and to be able to do that in your home state, where you still spend a significant amount of time feels pretty good and now we have to deliver."
While only time will tell, early signs point to this as an extremely positive move for the Devils. The team has struggled to turn a profit in the past, but with a fanbase that seems invigorated by 2012's run to the Stanley Cup, the goal for the ownership will be to further that brand by selling tickets, but more importantly, selling luxury boxes and sponsorships to businesses.
With the backing of Harris and Blitzer, along with their financial assets and drive to win, this franchise seems poised for success on all fronts, in the community, in financial terms and on the ice.
After what was most likely the most tumultuous off-season in Devils history, with the new ownership in the fold, all that's left is for the team to hit the ice for the upcoming season.