So That's That
There's still time for a Hail Mary pass.
Then again, 99 per cent of Hail Mary passes aren't completed.
So while Gary Bettman and Matthew Hulsizer could come up with some 11th hour deal to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix - and clearly, that's still what Bettman wants - it seems unlikely.
But when will we know? That's not clear either.
What we do know is that the Coyotes season ended Wednesday night in the desert, with a 6-3 loss to Detroit putting Phoenix out in four straight games, a result Coyotes captain Shane Doan called embarrassing. Last year, after all, the Coyotes were able to extend Detroit to seven games.
A 3-3 tie in the third was broken open by a bad angle goal by Dan Cleary past Ilya Bryzgalov to put an end to a wild night of NHL post-season action that featured a pair of double OT games and, of course, possibly the last game ever played by this franchise, at least, in Arizona.
Tears were shed in the crowd at Jobing.com Arena, and the fans chanted "Thank You Coyotes," but it was all rather empty given the tepid support the team has received in recent years. That a team that was heisted out of Winnipeg 15 years ago and never won a playoff series as the Coyotes may be ripped out of the desert and sent right back north to Manitoba is hardly an unfair event. In some ways, it's poetic justice.
In various media interviews on Wednesday, a combative Bettman sought to assure the hockey world that he and Hulsizer were still committed to saving the Coyotes for the City of Glendale, but at the same time Bettman offered no guarantees and gave no details. He certainly didn't deny that talks were already well along to send the Phoenix franchise back to Winnipeg.
But really, the NHL has done anything but give straight answers since taking over the franchise in late 2009, as one prospective owner after another has shown up, then faded away. Bettman now wants to make the Goldwater Institute the bad guy for holding up the public bonds issue, but this is a sale arrangement to Hulsizer that stinks to high heaven, a cooked up transaction in which Glendale quite probably gets hosed again.
Unless somebody, Hulsizer or somebody else, wants to buy the Coyotes with their own money and make a private investment in this team that doesn't require hundreds of milliions of taxpayer dollars, they need to let this team go and let Glendale get on with the process of digging itself out of the hole in which it placed itself by doing business with former owner Steve Ellman in the first place.
Bettman, meanwhile, has a tricky political wire to walk now. If this team ends up in Winnipeg he wants to be seen as champion of that effort, not as the executive who did everything to make sure it didn't happen. Pretending that a team on life support has a fabulous future in Arizona may end up being a costly process for the NHL commissioner.