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(Report) Devils owner needs $20 million by Aug 14th

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After trying for months to raise enough cash to pay off overdue loans, New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek is still short of his goal — with just a week to go, The Post has learned.

The former Wall Street executive needs another $20 million to make the lenders happy, sources close to the situation said.

Angry creditors are poised to pounce on Aug. 14, these sources said.

Failure to come up with the funds could result in Vanderbeek losing control of the team.

“He had worked out a deal to raise a certain amount and has not been able to do that,” a source said.

Vanderbeek is working — negotiating with the lenders and the National Hockey League — to remain at the head of the NHL’s Eastern Division champs should he not raise the needed money.

“He has not given up,” a source close to the Newark franchise said yesterday, adding confidently that Vanderbeek will raise the $20 million needed and work out a solution to remain in charge of the team.

Vanderbeek has been skating on thin ice since September when the team missed an $80 million loan repayment.

The lenders extended the deadline through Aug. 14, and Vanderbeek promised the group he would have $40 million by that date.

But he is only halfway home, sources said, despite seeming close to a deal on more than one occasion.

Despite the looming deadline and the cash shortfall, Vanderbeek might still have an ace up his sleeve.

Creditors may be torn on how hard to push for repayment.

Leaning on Vanderbeek too hard and forcing the Devils into Chapter 11 could result in lenders having to fund the money-losing team next season.

Of course, a new, better-financed owner could emerge if Vanderbeek is forced aside.

Meanwhile, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is in an uneasy place.

The Devils are not the only troubled franchise.

The NHL currently owns the Phoenix Coyotes and despite having reached an agreement in May to sell the team for $170 million to a group led by Greg Jamison, the deal has yet to close.

Jamison, it appears, is short on cash, too. Ironically, he also needs $20 million to close the deal.

“We continue to proceed on the objective of transferring ownership of the Coyotes to a group led by Greg Jamison,” an NHL spokesman said,

The Devils declined comment.

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We could all use $20M, but don't all of you find the charade that Gary Bettman carries out to be a bit over the top. Revenues have never been better, the game is growing, blah, blah blah, but 18 teams are losing money each and every year.

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