On Coyotes What Can Bettman Say?

Word is everywhere tonight that talks have broken down between the city of Glendale and Ice Edge Holdings, the rumored last party standing in the quest to own the Phoenix Coyotes and leave them in Arizona. By everywhere I mean even the Ice Edge folks are confirming the talks are off- at least for the moment.

The sticking point right now is that Ice Edge won’t apparently continue the dialogue absent an exclusivity agreement from the city of Glendale. I get it from Ice Edge’s point. They don’t want to be the stalking horse. They don’t want to do all this work only to have some other party swoop in and claim the prize.

What I don’t get is why Glendale would agree to this right now. If, as reported in the Globe and Mail this am, Glendale is broke and has little room to guarantee the losses of the hockey team, why limit talks at the final hour? I mean it is in their best interest to try to get the best deal possible. I know, Ice Edge has threatened to (and apparently has ) pull out. However the city has limits.

So, with the league apparently running out of options I am left with the big question. What will Bettman say if he has to move the franchise. I mean, there is humble pie and there is this. No matter how he tries to sell this everyone will be yelling bullcrap. His main job is to enhance franchise value. Buying a team out of bankruptcy doesn’t do wonders to advance that goal. A year ago he had the proverbial angel in Balsillie. The problem was Balsillie wanted the Southern Ontario market for nothing. Bettman knows his one trump card with the owners (with the exception of Toronto and Buffalo) is another team in the GTA. IF he wants to pay a nice dividend to his bosses it will come from an expansion fee for a second team here.

A report is posted on the Hockey News website today that as many as 1/3 of the teams in Bettman’s league could be for sale soon. That doesn’t do much to help Bettman’s success rate in improving franchise value. So, imagine we are approaching June, the final nail is in the Coyotes coffin and the team is moving. You are writing Bettman’s speech to announce the sale/relocation of the franchise. What the hell do you say? “Ooops”? “Sorry”? “It’s not a lie if the teller knows the truth”? Seriously, what the [email protected]#@!#@!# can the guy say at that point?????? Personally, I would find the truth a great start.

Interesting to see the experts come out in full force tonight and throw their 2 cents in. I loved Kypreos’s comment on twitter:

“Lets all put on our surprise faces on..talks off between Ice Edge/Glendale. Will they restart? anything is possible EXCEPT Coy’ts staying.”

I had the misfortune of listening to the start of PTS tonight at 5pm. Mccown (who’s first hour talking on callers from Mississauga was very funny) and Shannon got together to talk shop. It was one of the worst segments I have heard in sports radio. The two of them went Seinfeld on the air. They talked about absolutely nothing for the better part of 20 minutes. It was as if they were talking in the studio and forgot the mics were on. Shannon has been getting better of late, but come on guys. If you are going to have your buddy’s on the air at least make it interesting to listen in to. I don’t mind a little inside banter that we, the listener don’t really get, but an entire segment of nothingness is a little too much to handle.

In the time it has taken me to write this, Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow has walked another 5 guys.

Good on the Toronto Sun (owners of the worst online sports presence in the world) for sending Bob Elliott on the road to see and write about the Jays in the minor leagues. His articles have been very good. His one yesterday was fantastic.

It’s interesting to see the age divide amongst us Leafs fans. The older crowd- at least on twitter are on the verge of hurting themselves over the Habs playoffs success. Those of us in the younger bracket aren’t nearly as bothered. Personally, once the Sens are out, I’m good. Am I cheering for the Habs? No. Do I really care if they advance? Not really.

Hats off to Darren Dreger for the Dave Nonis scoop. Unless I missed it elsewhere, Dreger is the first to report on an apparent extension between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dave Nonis. According to Dreger, Nonis’s new deal will keep him in Toronto until the end of the 2011-2012 season. You may think I am nuts but I think this has as much to do with succession planning as anything else. Nonis realizes the size of the job here. He likes Burke and the security and freedom he has. Burke seems to allow Nonis to do all the heavy lifting in terms of the team, and Burke is more than happy to give credit where credit is due. At the end of the following season (not this upcoming but the one after) Burke will be 4 years into his deal (if my math is correct). The Leafs should be in a much better position at that time. It is not totally inconceivable that Burke takes some other senior role at MLSE at that stage while his understudy become the GM. There is also the possibility that Nonis is quite happy riding shotgun to Burke. David Conte has done so in NJ as a scout or head of scouting in NJ for what seems like ever. It is possible that Nonis is very happy doing all the GM duties without the title and some of the headache. in any event it appears to be good news and good on Dreger for landing it

Lastly, while Morrow just walked a few more guys, it occurred to me that Jerry Reinsdorf is probably licking his chops at this moment at the fact the NHL is totally out of options in Phoenix. Standby Winnipeg fans for a roller -coaster couple of days.



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