Devils likely to announce sale Thursday

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Updated: 8/14/2013 8:23 pm

Newark, NJ (Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils have called a news conference for 11 a.m. ET Thursday, when it's expected an announcement regarding the sale of the franchise will be made.

The team didn't disclose the subject of the news conference, only to say it was a "major announcement" and that members of the team's executive offices would be on hand.

The Newark Star-Ledger reported Wednesday that the financially-strapped team would be sold to Josh Harris, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Calgary billionaire Bill Gallacher has also reportedly been interested in purchasing the Devils.

The new owner of the Devils faces a big financial challenge. The team is in debt an estimated $230 million according to Forbes. The magazine reported last week team owner Jeff Vanderbeek missed the first payment on a recently restructured bank loan. Forbes said the annual debt for the Devils is around $15 million a year.

Forbes reported the NHL didn't want the Devils to file for bankruptcy like the Phoenix Coyotes did in 2009. The Coyotes were then sold earlier this month in a deal to keep the team in Glendale.

The Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003. They lost in the Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and last year missed the playoffs in the lockout-shortened campaign.

Vanderbeek has been a member of the Devils' ownership group since the summer of 2000 and officially became the managing partner/chairman in June 2004. He purchased controlling interest in the club that summer for a reported $125 million.

After entering the league as the Kansas City Scouts in 1974-75, the franchise moved to Denver two years later and became the Colorado Rockies before leaving Denver for New Jersey to start the 1982-83 season.

Harris won a $280 million bid to buy the Sixers in the summer of 2011.

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