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Vanderbeek takes over sole control of Devils

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Jeff Vanderbeek has taken over sole control of the New Jersey Devils and refinanced the team's debt.

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The Devils announced the deal on Thursday as the NHL and its players worked to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement to save the season.

The Devils said that CIT Group was the lead agency in handling the refinancing. In conjunction with the deal, the minority owners, Brick City Hockey and its related entities, no longer have a stake in the team.

Vanderbeek was close to refinancing the nearly $80 million in debt during the playoffs last season. The team's run to the Stanley Cup final - where it lost to Los Angeles in six games - generated roughly $32 million in revenues and Vanderbeek's financial footing also improved with the Prudential Center emerging as one of the country's top revenue-producing facilities in recent years.

``Today's announcement is good news for Devils fans though I fully recognize fans' frustration with the work stoppage,'' Vanderbeek said in a statement. ``Our future is now secure and we can be confident of continued on-ice success. Our team has gone to the Stanley Cup final five times in the last 17 years and following the most recent run to the final last year, we are excited about our future - for Jersey's team and the Prudential Center, home to the 2013 NHL Draft.''

Vanderbeek thanked Mike Gilfillan, who owned and ran Brick City Hockey LLC, which had a minority interest the team.

``Together, we shared a passion that led to the building of the Prudential Center - truly a shining jewel of a facility and in my view, one of the best arenas in the entire world,'' Vanderbeek said. ``The Rock is a great legacy for which we will always be proud.''

Gilfillan said Brick City's involvement with the Devils was to make pro sports a catalyst for economic development in downtown Newark, along with staging events for concerts and family shows to complement performances in the nearby New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

``Our goal to stimulate and facilitate that growth has been achieved,'' Gilfillan said in a statement, ``and is obvious to everyone, given how much development has occurred near the Prudential Center and the Performing Arts Center, from what is underway, and is to come.''

The NHL lockout was in its 110th day Thursday, and both sides understand the urgency to save a shortened season. They have moved closer to one another while swapping proposals, but key issues remain - pensions and salary cap, among them.

Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that the league told the union a deal needs to be in place by next week so that a 48-game season can begin Jan. 19. All games through Jan. 14 along with the All-Star game have been canceled, claiming more than 50 percent of the original schedule.

The Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003, and won additional Eastern Conference championships in 2001 and last season. The 1995 title was won after a shortened season.

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