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Travis Zajac #19 of the New Jersey Devils will miss the first eight weeks of the season to recover from Achilles tendon surgery . (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images) (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
Travis Zajac #19 of the New Jersey Devils will miss the first eight weeks of the season to recover from Achilles tendon surgery . (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images) (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

Devils have problems on and off the ice Add to ...

Things are not getting any better for the New Jersey Devils even if they do have a new head coach in Peter DeBoer.

For the second season in a row, the Devils will be missing one of their young forward stars for a significant amount of time. Centre Travis Zajac told The Star-Ledger he may not play until the new year thanks to a torn Achilles tendon. Rich Chere has all the sad details.

Last season, the Devils played all but 13 games without winger Zach Parise due to knee surgery. That was one reason why the Devils scored the fewest goals (171) of any NHL team in 2010-11. The other was the poor first season of prize free agent Ilya Kovalchuk.

Losing Zajac is not good news for a team that did nothing to improve its offence over the summer other than look forward to having Parise around for a full season.

Things are no better off the ice, either. Team owner Jeff Vanderbeek cut a deal with co-owners Ray Chambers and Mike Gilfallin to take over their 47 per cent of the team, boosting his stake to 94 per cent, and he got them to pay him for it, too (sort of).

But it is a hollow victory, as Vanderbeek still has to refinance the team’s debt, which is well north of $100-million (all currency U.S.), all by himself in a world where bankers are reluctant to lend money even to people with lots of assets.

The Star-Ledger has the details. Chambers agreed to pay half of a joint bank loan for $46-million with Vanderbeek. In exchange, Vanderbeek will take Chambers’ 47-per-cent of the team and look after the $23-million remaining on the loan.

This may sound like a sweetheart deal for Vanderbeek but it really isn’t. Chambers was the only man in the ownership group with the money needed to pay the Devils’ healthy losses and now he’s gone. For Chambers, paying $23-million to unload his share of the Devils is a bargain considering the team owes at least $100-million in bank loans and its operating company owes a similar amount. Now he won’t have to write any cheques to cover loans or annual losses.

Chambers and Gilfallin have been trying to dump their chunk of the team for close to a year. But Vanderbeek insisted he would remain as the managing partner, which meant no one with money was interested in buying into a team he or she would not be able to control.

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