NHL's Buffalo Sabres file for bankruptcy protection

The Buffalo Sabres hockey team has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Buffalo Sabres hockey club has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Court documents show the team owes it largest creditors more than $206 millionnUS.

But National Hockely League commissioner Gary Bettman welcomed the filing.

"It's actually good news," he said, because along with the filing, the league has lined up money to keep the team going until it's sold to Buffalo businessman Mark Hamister and his New York partner, Todd Berman.

The Sabres are the second NHL team to file for bankruptcy protection in the past week. Ottawa Senators filed on Thursday, owing creditors $160 million.

The Sabres filing was expected, and will give the team time to restructure and stabilize its financial situation, Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello said.

* Coverage from CBC Sports

The NHL took over the team's operations after the downfall of owner John Rigas and his Adelphia Communications Corp. Rigas faces fraud charges after he allegedly "looted Adelphia on a massive scale, using the company as the Rigas family's personal piggy bank," prosecutors said in July.

Adelphia, the Sabres' largest creditor, is owed $157 million US and is also in bankruptcy protection.

Rigas ran the Sabres separately from Adelphia, but used the cable TV company's money to back his purchase of the team, giving rise to the debt.

Bankruptcy protection allows a business to continue operating even if it is out of money. Once under court protection, lenders will advance failing companies more money, secure in the knowledge that they will go to the top of the creditors' list.