The situation with the Phoenix Coyotes is as fluid and absurd as anything any professional sports league has ever seen. The latest update comes from Darren Dreger at TSN saying that the City of Glendale will reach an agreement with Ice Edge to get the Coyotes. As always, there are some stipulations thrown into the mix.
It has been widely speculated one of the main stumbling blocks is a concern over whether or not Glendale will cover losses for next season. However, what the National Hockey League is looking for is an assurance, if the league foregoes the relocation option for next season, and either the City or new ownership breaches or doesn’t close, Glendale will then assume the risk of losses for next year.
Sources say the NHL is simply looking for an insurance policy and nothing more.
As expected, the NHL is just making sure they’re not stuck holding the bag and having to scramble around like they did last summer when former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy and tried to side-step the league rules and sell to Research In Motion guru Jim Balsillie.
What makes this continued circus all the more insane is the potential Winnipeg move for the Coyotes and what it does to Canadians and Canadian reporters in general. If the Jets are to make a return and Canada does, indeed, get to make it seven the Globe and Mail’s Stephen Brunt isn’t content with just seven, he wants a little bit more.
Maybe Jim Balsillie’s problem was that he didn’t think big enough. Make It Seven? Heck, how about Make It Nine?
The rather predictable events in Phoenix over the past 48 hours, coming almost exactly a year after Jerry Moyes took the Coyotes into bankruptcy with the intent of passing the franchise to Balsillie, and to Hamilton, underscore a truth obvious even to the desperate propagandists in the NHL’s head office.
There aren’t a heck of a lot of palatable options around right now for ailing NHL teams that don’t involved relocation to Canada.
Check that: there aren’t any.
Brunt goes on to add that not just Winnipeg is a good choice, mostly thanks to potential Canadian buyer David Thomson’s money, but also another former NHL home in Quebec City (courtesy of former Nordiques owner and current Canadian political figure Marcel Aubut) as well as the big prize in Canada, the greater Toronto area. While the NHL isn’t in a hurry to go scattering other money-losing franchises back across the northern border, leaving markets that are slowly trying to build some respectability with a bad taste in their mouth for the NHL doesn’t do the league any good either.
In the meantime, the NHL getting its house in order with the Coyotes is priority number one and the league’s commitment to Phoenix/Glendale as a market is going to get the biggest test its ever had mainly because the league has more than just its reputation as a league at stake here, they’ve got their credibility as a business at play as well.