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Lightning terminate sale agreement with group led by MacLean

TAMPA, Fla. - The proposed sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning to a group that includes former Florida Panthers coach Doug MacLean is off.

The team said Monday night that an agreement Palace Sports & Entertainment reached in August to sell the NHL franchise to Absolute Hockey Enterprises was terminated on Nov. 14. The deal also included the leasing rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and about 2.2 hectares adjacent to the downtown arena.

"The Lightning entities terminated the agreement because of the failure of Absolute to comply with the terms of the purchase," the team in a statement issued after the St. Petersburg Times reported on its website that the deal fell apart when Absolute did not make a required US$5-million payment.

"At the same time, the buying group expressed continuing interest in purchasing the team, while informing PS&E that there were internal disagreements to be resolved. ... While there is no current agreement in place to sell the team, PS&E is hopeful that those differences can still be resolved and a successful ownership transfer can take place."

Palace Sports & Entertainment is led by Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson, who bought the Lightning in 1999 and helped transform the club from a perennial last-place team into a franchise that won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

The proposed sale was announced on Aug. 7.

MacLean, fired in April as the Columbus Blue Jackets' president and general manager, was joined that day at a news conference by fellow investors Jeff Sherrin, a Coral Springs real estate developer, and Oren Koules, a Los Angeles TV and movie producer.

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