Tampa Bay Lightning
Barrie's Bolts window closes; Koules now on the clock
REGINA, Saskatchewan - Len Barrie's time has expired and Oren Koules is now on the clock. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed Monday the exclusive 60-day window for Barrie to gain control of the Tampa Bay Lightning and buy out co-owner Koules had closed. Apparently, nobody informed Barrie. Barrie, who originally had through Wednesday to buy out Koules, said early Monday evening he was still working to put something together with St. Louis real estate mogul Anthony Sansone Jr., whom Barrie said was in Tampa on Monday.When informed later Monday of the league's confirmation he was out of the picture, Barrie responded in a text message to The Tampa Tribune: "We'll see. I guess I would be happy to get my $40 million." That is the amount Barrie invested when he and Koules, along with several minority partners, purchased the franchise along with the lease to the St. Pete Times Forum and adjacent land from Palace Sports and Entertainment in June 2008. The total sale price was reported at $204 million. The two majority owners have been at odds almost from the start with regard to decisions involving the direction of the franchise. The relationship reached a crescendo in June when the league intervened by meeting with both parties at the league offices in New York and devised a plan in which each would have an exclusive 60-day window during which to try to buy out the ownership stake of the other. Barrie was granted the first opportunity and had until Wednesday to come up with a plan, but reportedly failed to put together an acceptable package and, according to Elliotte Friedman of the CBC in Canada, missed several unspecified deadlines, which led to the window closing prematurely. Koules, who declined to comment, has until Nov. 23 to come up with a plan to buy out Barrie's ownership stake. CBC reported that Los Angeles-based real estate investor Jeff Greene has surfaced as a possible partner with Koules. Should Koules fail, Sansone could emerge as a potential owner. Sansone, who once attempted to purchase the St. Louis Blues, met with the league in New York City on Thursday to discuss that possibility. "This is still in the very exploratory stages," Daly told CBC of Sansone's involvement.