Balsillie, Coyotes, Moyes & Bettman Update

“While there has been no resolution or understanding between the National Hockey League and Jerry Moyes on the contentious issue of who controls the Phoenix Coyotes, the two sides have come to an agreement on how the team will be operated on a daily basis while in bankruptcy proceedings. “We’ve had discussions with the Moyes parties on procedures governing how the Club will be operated pending a sale,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail. “Nothing has been agreed to yet, and it is possible we may still need to seek the guidance of the court on several issues on Wednesday.”

So Moyes and Bettman Inc. have made good enough on their own to try to settle one issue. The fact that this happened quietly can’t be good news for the team. I am sure one of the things they were banking on was acrimony.

“With the NHL draft scheduled for June 27 and free agency looming on July 1 — and the preparations for both an ongoing concern among the Coyotes’ coaching staff, management and scouts — the continued flow of money is essential to ensure the asset at the centre of the court fight between the NHL and Moyes is not devalued in a fire sale of its players, or by some near-sighted decision made on draft night. The tentative arrangement between the sides does not resolve any of the major issues — who controls the Coyotes; did Moyes have the power to petition the money-bleeding club into bankruptcy; will the club be sold, and to whom; and can and will the franchise be moved out of Phoenix?”

No, the major issues aren’t solved. However, as we all know you start with small steps. This will be interesting when we get back to court on Wednesday. Over under on the number of Toronto reporters in the courtroom? I will lay even money on 10!

“The NHL will continue to lend the Coyotes money to keep them operating. The league said in court documents filed this month that it lent the team $13.4-million (all currency U.S.) after advancing it $31.4-million from its portion of revenue sharing. A source of conflict remains: the timeline for the bankruptcy petition, sale of the team and its possible relocation. The Moyes camp wants it done quickly so that the winning bidder, be it Jim Balsillie and his $212.5-million offer or anyone else, can move the team by the start of the season this fall and avoid another year of $40-million losses in Phoenix. The NHL is adamant that is too soon for a move. The league cited its procedures for allowing a franchise to move and logistical problems with the schedule. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed in an e-mail that an agreement is basically in place on operating the team. As for the timeline, Daly wrote: “I guess it will be up to the court to decide.”

What’s the rush when ton’s of money is flushing down the toilet AND they have brought in all of $20k in ticket revenue for next season. Nothing like a stall tactic to drag this out and make a move all but impossible for next season.

“Meanwhile, Balsillie is working on the housekeeping aspects of his bid to buy the Coyotes out of bankruptcy and win a court decision allowing him to move them to Hamilton. One week from today, the co-founder of Research In Motion expects to officially apply to the NHL to move the Coyotes, as directed by the court. In the unlikely event the governors approve the bid, then Judge Baum will not need a hearing on June 22 to decide the relocation issue and the court fight will probably end. Most likely, though, the governors will reject the bid or reserve a decision, which means Judge Baum will decide if the team can be moved, possibly at the hearing on June 22. There is also an anti-trust lawsuit pending, filed by the Coyotes’ owners, which accuses the NHL of acting as a cartel to prevent the Coyotes from doing business by moving to a better market.”

That is where the legal showdown will be…That is the one you want to be in the courtroom for!

National Post is here
Globe and Mail is here

About the Author