UPDATE, 8/9, 5:00 p.m.: Take this at face value, but:
We'll wait to hear more official word than just Eskin, who's certainly not perfect in his reporting, but for now it looks like this could be happening. Original post below.
This doesn't really have much to do with the Flyers -- not directly, at least -- but it's interesting and applicable enough that it's worth talking about. (Not like anything else is going on right now.)
Two years after Flyers owner Ed Snider sold the Philadelphia 76ers to a group of investors led by New York-based billionaire Josh Harris, that same group is reportedly in talks to buy an NHL franchise that has had some financial trouble lately ...
... no, not the Coyotes. They're taken care of. Probably. I think. Anyways, it's a franchise much closer to us here in Philly: the long-time rival New Jersey Devils. Via 94 WIP's Howard Eskin:
Con't... NJ Devils value in Forbes placed at 205 million. #sixers owner Josh Harris and his group have billions. Buying Devils chump change.— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) August 7, 2013
It's true that the Devils have been coming up on some hard financial times lately, and reports from June suggested that they were looking for another shareholder. As Eskin points out, Harris and his colleagues have a ridiculous amount of money and could definitely afford to purchase the Devils if they wanted, and the group has specialized in "distressed properties", which you could probably classify the Devils as at this point in time.
As a Sixers fan, I've been very happy with the work that Harris and Co. have done since they took over that team in 2011, and my first reaction here was that I wouldn't really like seeing what they'd do with a team that's been one of the Flyers' biggest rivals for a long time. That said, it'd certainly be different -- in particular, the dynamic between the owners and Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, a guy who I can't imagine gets influenced much by his owners, wouldn't quite be the same.
He's been doing his thing there since 1987 and it's generally gone pretty well for them, so Harris probably wouldn't come in and find a new GM and re-construct the whole team the way he's done in his two years with the Sixers. In all likelihood, it'd probably be a business transaction more than anything else and is probably not a big deal at all.
But meanwhile, as a Flyers fan ... well, there's certainly some trolling potential on Harris' behalf here, right?
Two years after buying the Sixers -- the team that was pretty clearly never Ed Snider's priority when compared to the orange and black -- there's a chance that he, a tenant of Snider's Wells Fargo Center, will also become the owner of one of the ex-owner's (and landlord's) team's biggest rivals. Can you imagine Ed Snider on the days of Sixers home games, knowing that the Devils' owner is in there presiding over the home team? Somehow I think that would mildly upset him.
And that's before we get to the Philadelphia fans, so many of whom would probably not take kindly to one of their owners also owning a rival team in another league no matter what the underlying reality of the situation is.
Like I said above, this doesn't really make a difference at all to me and I don't think it'll make a big one for the Flyers. And no, I don't actually think that Harris and his group would throw $200 million around for the sole purpose of being able to laugh at Flyers ownership/fans about it. But there would almost certainly be some sort of ramifications within the city were the sale to go down.
It'll be interesting to see how they go about it from here. In the meantime, some more thoughts on the matter can be found from our friends at Liberty Ballers, SBNation's excellent Sixers blog.