Another Coyotes Sale Blows Up
It now appears that one way or another, the Phoenix Coyotes are going to be playing games in Canada next season.
That could occur if the Ice Edge Holdings group, now back in the game, is able to purchase the team, as that group is still believed to want to hold at least five games a season in Saskatoon and the rest in Arizona.
Or, the entire kit and kaboodle could yet end up in Winnipeg with the rebirth of the Jets. It's not impossible Manitoba could welcome the team it lost as early as later this month.
Wild. Crazy. But nothing seems too bizarre for this oddball situation any more.
ESPN.com was reporting late Thursday night that the agreement between the City of Glendale and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf was dead, and that Glendale, which had voted against Ice Edge and in favour of Reinsdorf several weeks ago, had reached out to Ice Edge again. Even the NHL, however, has questioned the ability of Ice Edge to put the funding together to buy the team, and ESPN.com reported that the NHL would place a number of conditions on the sale, including Glendale having to agree to cover any operating losses next season.
If Ice Edge can't strike a deal, the ESPN.com report indicated that Canadian billionaire David Thomson has a purchase agreement ready to sign that would see the team shift operations to Winnipeg.
Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz said it's "just a matter of time" before the city gets an NHL team. Even if it's not the Coyotes, Katz said this week he believes a team will be in Winnipeg within three years.
The impressive first round playoff performance by the Coyotes that saw huge crowds attend the club's games against the Detroit Red Wings apparently weren't enough to keep Reinsdorf in the game, or to make his proposed deal acceptable. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said as recently as Monday that he still hoped a deal could be struck to keep the team in Phoenix, but that he had no deadline on when a purchase could be completed.
The NHL operated the team this season after defeating an attempt by Waterloo billionaire Jim Balsillie to buy the club out of bankruptcy and move it to Hamilton. Ice Edge, meanwhile, struck a letter of agreement with the league last fall to buy the team, but couldn't close the deal.
If the team is to move, that decision would likely have to be made by next month at the latest. It's not clear how Glendale would react if the team was sold by the NHL to non-Phoenix interests since a lease still exists for the club to operate out of the Glendale arena. The NHL, however, has maintained for months that if a buyer can't be found, it would be prepared to break the lease and move the team.