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Ottawa Situation Gets Worse

January 02, 2003|From Associated Press

A proposal to refinance the Ottawa Senators fell through, raising questions about the team's financial health.

The deal was to involve the sale of the team by majority owner Rod Bryden to a limited partnership for $118.7 million.

The agreement would have given the Senators some badly needed cash and a better lease with the Corel Centre. The terms included injecting $26.7 million into the team and paying off a $9.1-million loan from the NHL.

"The transaction will not proceed," Gordon Fox of Norfolk Capital Partners, which managed the limited partnership, told the Globe and Mail. "It's a sad story for everyone."

NHL spokesman Frank Brown confirmed Wednesday that the Senators were unable to complete the refinancing.

"We are working with the club to deal with that reality," he said.

Bryden declined comment.

The Web site of TSN, a Canadian cable sports network, quoted unidentified sources as saying the players did not receive their paychecks as scheduled Wednesday. Instead, they got a letter from Bryden explaining the financial mess.

Senator spokesman Phil Legault refused comment when reached.

TSN said that the players will be paid within two weeks or even over the next few days.

The Senators have lost money in each of the last three seasons, including $9.5 million in 2001-02. The team owes more than $101.7 million to a group of creditors and faces continuing cash shortfalls, documents show.

This is the second time in the last year that the refinancing has fallen apart. A year ago today, Bryden sold the team to the Norfolk partnership for $118.7 million. However, that deal fell apart when Covanta Energy Corp., a U.S. company that is a major lender to the team, filed for bankruptcy protection in April.

The Senators were formed in 1990 for a $50-million expansion fee and started play in 1992.

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WEDNESDAY'S GAMES

Phoenix 2, Washington 1 -- Tony Amonte scored with 3:40 left in overtime for the Coyotes at Washington.

Amonte, playing in his 900th NHL game, beat goaltender Olaf Kolzig with a hard shot from the left circle to give the Coyotes their third consecutive victory. It also ended the Capitals' five-game home winning streak.

Washington controlled play for much of the game, finishing with a 32-14 advantage in shots, but Phoenix goalie Sean Burke made a number of tough stops to keep the Coyotes close.

Sergei Gonchar gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal in the second period. Washington had a 25-6 advantage in shots after two periods but still only a 1-0 lead.

Ladislav Nagy tied it at 7:11 of the third period.

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Colorado 7, Nashville 3 -- Peter Forsberg had a goal and five assists, and Milan Hejduk had two goals and three assists to lead the Avalanche at Nashville.

Forsberg set a record for points in a game against Nashville, beating the old mark set by Wayne Gretzky, who had five assists.

Steven Reinprecht, Mike Keane, Adam Foote and Rob Blake also scored for the Avalanche.

Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy started the game but sat out after the first period because of flu. He was replaced by David Aebischer, who gave up a goal to Adam Hall on a rebound at 2:46.

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Florida 2, New Jersey 1 -- Branislav Mezei scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and Roberto Luongo made 26 saves to lead the Panthers at East Rutherford, N.J.

The victory ended Florida's five-game winless streak (0-1-1-3) while also extending its team record to 13 consecutive road games in which it gained at least one point (5-0-4-4). The Panthers last lost a regulation game on the road Oct. 24.

Marcus Nilson also scored for Florida. Sergei Brylin had the Devils' goal. Mezei broke a 1-1 tie in the second period as the trailer on a rush and shooting through a maze of players.

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