May 282009

A week ago the NHL issued a press release stating the start dates of the upcoming Stanley Cup finals.

If both Conference Final series have been decided by Tuesday, May 26, the Western Conference winner would host Game 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final on Thursday, May 28. Otherwise, Game 1 will be played on Friday, June 5.

There was a fair bit of backlash to that press release with people saying how stupid it would be if the conference finals finished last night with Detroit winning in 5 games and then the league taking 8 days off before starting the final. Over the past couple of days with that outcome seeming more likely rumours came about that maybe the playoffs would start this Saturday. Yesterday those rumours came true as the NHL released the schedule for the Stanley Cup finals.

Saturday, May 30 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
Sunday, May 31 at Detroit, TBD-Night NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, June 2 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Thursday, June 4 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Saturday, June 6 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
* Tuesday, June 9 at Pittsburgh, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS
* Friday, June 12 at Detroit, 8:00 pm NBC, CBC, RDS

So the new schedule has Detroit and Pittsburgh playing 4 games in 6 nights and then taking another 8 nights to play the final 3 games, if necessary? That’s absurd. The heavily inured Detroit Red Wings must be furious right now with such a front heavy schedule. But, I guess, whatever NBC wants, never mind the fact that they aren’t paying a penny for broadcasting rights (just profit sharing if there is any profit).

In other news, in 12 seasons in Phoenix, it is reported that the Coyotes have never turned a profit. After 12 seasons in Phoenix, the Phoenix Coyotes Booster Club has a grand total of 57 members. A couple of weeks ago they had a save the Coyotes in which just 500 fans showed up. In Nashville a couple of years ago they had 7500 people show up at the rally and reportedly sold close to 800 seasons tickets. The save the Jets rally in Winnipeg before the Jets moved to Phoenix had over 35,000 people show up.

In other news, for some odd reason the NHL is holding their awards ceremony in Las Vegas this year. I can only assume to draw some attention to the NHL in a potential future expansion city but it seems that the event might not come close to selling out.

Is it just me or does anyone else think that it is time that the NHL take some pride in itself and its product and not make itself look like a spoiled child desperate for attention. I understand the desire to grow the brand and I am for that, but at some point you have to say enough is enough. I can accept a little juggling around of the schedule to accommodate TV, but not when it affects the on ice product and not when it makes the league look desperate for attention. Four games in six nights followed by 3 in eight is just plain ridiculous and it reflects poorly on the NHL. I wish the NHL had enough pride in itself and its product that they wouldn’t make such concessions. Would MLB ever announce a preliminary schedule for the World Series that could possible mean a week or more layoff between games? Not a chance.

I am all for working hard to preserve franchises in their current cities, but not if those cities prove that after 12 seasons the majority of people don’t care one iota about the team. Sometimes teams fail and teams have to move on. I just wish the NHL had enough pride in their product that they can feel OK with saying, if you don’t want our product, so be it, we’ll go somewhere that does. MLB, NFL and the NBA don’t seem to have a problem with that, why does the NHL?

In the grand scheme of things, Phoenix is near irrelevant and Las Vegas hardly matters at all. Sure, it would be nice to have solid fan interest in the NHL in those locations, but it isn’t there, and may never be there. And you know what, that is just fine. There are enough people in New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, and other well supported hockey markets that the NHL can be a highly successful and popular professional sports league. It is time that the NHL stands up and takes pride in what they are and act like a professional sports league which is confident and competent rather than league desperate for attention and acceptance and willing to do almost anything for that attention and acceptance. Desperation won’t gain you any respect from anyone.

Leafs, Sabres do not have veto rights

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May 232009

There seems to be some misinformation out there regarding territorial rights of the Sabres and Leafs. There is still a lot of speculation that either the Leafs or the Sabres will attempt to block the move of the Coyotes, or any team, to Hamilton.

NHL rules dictate the Sabres would need to approve a team moving within 50 miles of its home rink in downtown Buffalo. Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum is located about 45 miles from HSBC Arena in downtown Buffalo and the Sabres would most likely block such a move. This means Balsille’s group would either need to build a new rink north of Hamilton or pay the Sabres an enormous indemnity fee.

This is absolutely not true and there is little dispute over this fact. The issue is fairly clear and in fact the NHL in their own filings to the court state just that.

To be clear, it remains the policy of the NHL that a proposed team relocation to Southern Ontario would be subject to a majority vote of the NHL Board of Governors and no individual team, wherever located, would have any veto right over any majority vote in favour of relocation.

Now, there are statements in the NHL by-laws that upon relocation fees for goodwill developed by the NHL or neighbouring franchises may be required to be paid but there are no specifics on what those fees will be.

As I wrote a couple of days ago I believe that barring a solid and credible offer to purchase the Coyotes from someone intent on keeping the team in Phoenix and will come close to paying off the creditors to the extent that Balsillie’s offer does, then I believe that the judge will conclude that the Coyote’s are a relocatable franchise when the NHL’s own guidelines are considered. Ultimately the NHL’s complete argument in this dispute pretty much comes down to the fact that franchise ownership and location changes are to be decided by a vote among the board of governors and not by any court. But, I believe that the bankruptcy judge may get around that not by claiming that the NHL doesn’t have that right, but by concluding that, according to the NHLs own guidelines, that the Coyotes are relocatable, and that Jim Balsillie is a suitable owner and he’ll probably conclude that Hamilton is a suitable location, especially if Balsillie and the City of Hamilton present a plan to upgrade Copps Coliseum as the age and condition of Copps Coliseum is one of the NHL’s arguments against Hamilton.

May 212009

There are many interesting things that we are learning from the Phoenix Coyote’s Bankruptcy case because so much stuff is now becoming public knowledge that had previously been a well kept NHL secret, or at least a well denied rumours. Information that the general public had not gotten their hands on included things like the franchise agreements each of the NHL’s member franchises must agree too as well as the NHL constitution that governs the NHL. We now have access to some of that information.

Of interest is section 36 of the NHL By-laws which can be found on page 111 of the linked to document relating to the transfer of franchise location. The bylaw outlines the process for transferring a franchise and includes the member club seeking relocation to submit a written application to the commissioner of the league with the application to be filed no later than January 1 of the year prior to the year in which it is proposed the club will move without a majority of the other teams consenting to a later filing date. The league will then conduct an investigation into the merits of the relocation request and make a presentation to the board of governors after which time the board of governors will have an open vote on the relocation request.

In section 36.5 there is a list of criteria that member clubs are supposed to consider when deciding whether to approve a relocation. Lets go through these one by one and see if they would apply to the Phoenix Coyotes.

(a) Whether the club in question is financially viable in its present location and, if not, whether there is a reasonable prospect … that it could become financially viable there, either under its present ownership or under new ownership.

It is very debatable that a franchise in Phoenix will ever be financially viable. Even the NHL has concluded that it isn’t under the current conditions as the most positive thing they have said about the Coyotes is that they think they could be viable if they got a better lease arrangement and had a much more competitive and winning team. To me that means they are not viable because there are no guarantees of success. To me a viable team is one that can survive in good times and bad, not just when all the stars are aligned the right way.

(b)The extent to which fans have historically supported the Club in its present location.

Fan support has generally been among the worst in the NHL. Enough said.

(c) The extent to which the club has historically operated profitably or at a loss in its presen location.

They have lost well over $100 million over the past four seasons. Not good.

(d) Whether the current owner of the club has made a good faith effort to find prospective purchasers who are prepared to continue operating the club in its present location and/or has engaged in good faith negotiations with such purchasers.

(e) Whether there is any prospective purchaser of the club and franchise who is prepared to continue operating the club in its present location and, if so, whether such prospective purchaser is willing and able, if necessary, to sustain loses during at least the initial years of its operation there.

We know that Bettman has been looking for an owner for several months now and in an April 4th e-mail Bettman sent to Bill Daly he wrote “this is looking more and more difficult since no one seems to be excited about a team losing 40 (million dollars).” There have been rumours of a Jerry Reinsdorf deal in the works and yesterday there was rumours of minority owner John Breslow might put in a bit to purchase the team but are these serious bids and what conditions might be attached to them? There were some rumours that Reinsdorf’s offer would be conditional that he could move the team to Las Vegas in 2 years. Until a firm offer to purchase the team comes in we can only assume that after 6 months of searching there isn’t much interest from anyone to purchase the team and keep them in Phoenix.

(f) The extent to which the club might be operated in its present location in a more prudent, efficient, and/or cost-effective manner than it has in the past.

There is no doubt that Wayne Gretzky is making an excessive amount of money for an NHL coach (he is set to make $6 million next season and $8 the year after) but their player payroll is on the lower end of the required payroll range. Some savings could be made here for sure, but enough to make up $40 million? Not a chance.
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Decision Day Tomorrow

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May 182009

Tomorrow is a big day for the NHL, the Phoenix Coyotes and Jim Balsille’s bid to purchase and move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton as tomorrow is when a judge decides who actually is in control of the Phoenix Coyotes. The NHL claims that the they took control of the Coyotes franchise from owner Jerry Moyes back in November while Moyes argues that while the NHL took control of many aspects of operating the team, they didn’t take over control of all of the team and most importantly that he still has authority to file for bankruptcy protection. Meanwhile Jim Balsillie has publicly stated that it really doesn’t matter who controls the team because theteam is bankrupt regardless of who the owner is.

“I can tell you this. I made a generous good faith offer to buy the Coyotes from Jerry Moyes, who I understand is the owner of the Coyotes. Who owns or controls the team is a distinction without a difference. The team itself is still bankrupt, voluntarily or not. The owner of the team has a fiduciary obligation towards the creditors.” –Jim Balsillie

Another interesting development is that Earl Scudder, a lawyer for Jerry Moyes , filed an affidavit with the court stating that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told him that Hamilton is not an ideal location because Copp’s Coliseum is over 30 years old and if the team did move to Canada it would be a return to Winnipeg. Also in the affidavit Mr. Scudder claims that Bettman told him that the only way a team would end up in Southern Ontario is through expansion. This is interesting because if true, and we can only assume it is, then Bettman and the league have at minimum considered the notion of having another team in Southern Ontario and thus a bankruptcy judge may consider that as evidence that the NHL considers Southern Ontario an acceptable NHL market and this could hurt the NHL’s claim that Hamilton would not be an acceptable market to the board of governors. As for Copps Coliseum being 30 years old, Balsillie has recognized this and has negotiated a significant upgrading of Copps Coliseum to bring it up to current NHL standards so that is not likely an issue either. If it is deemed that Hamilton is an acceptable market and Balsillie is deemed an acceptable owner (he got unanimous approval when he bid to purchase the Penguins so a judge could certainly come to that conclusion) then that would be two major hurdles that the Balsillie camp has overcome.

Another major hurdle will be the lease agreement with the City of Glendale for use of arena. There are some that are suggesting that cities are creating lease agreements that are meant to be bankruptcy proof, meaning a contract that a bankruptcy judge would be hard pressed to terminate. I personally don’t think this will be a major hurdle because there is zero chance that a bankruptcy judge will ever have to consider the option of a bid to purchase the Coyote’s by a prospective owner that won’t require significant changes to the lease agreement. While we don’t know the details, there have been rumours that the Jerry Reinsdorf bid of $130 million is contingent on a new lease agreement that would save the team $15, or maybe even $20 million in rent and parking fees they pay the city. The city will be forced to be willing to give up its current lease agreement or end up with nothing since if the judge does find that he does not want to break the lease agreement and any new owner is obligated to keep the current lease. If this is the case there will be zero bidders for the team and the team will be forced to fold and the City of Glendale will get nothing. The alternative for the City of Glendale is to get something, be that major concessions to an owner willing to keep the team in Phoenix, or possibly as a judge mandated cash payment for breaking the lease agreement (much smaller than the $700 million early termination fee written into the lease agreement) that will come out of the proceeds of the sale of the team to Jim Balsillie, or another prospective owner that would move the team out of Phoenix. So while the city of Glendale might put up a fight to try to protect its lease agreement when push comes to shove accept taking less than take nothing at all. They can only hope that the less they take is from an owner willing to keep the team in Phoenix, which the judge may see as a preferred option as well.

I also recommend every read the Arizona Republic’s article on whether Phoenix could ever be a hockey town. After reading that article it should be clear that there is serious doubt that that is ever possible.

This past season, the Coyotes had a 0.4 TV rating. That translates to about 7,210 homes.

That is pretty scary. The population of greater Phoenix is over 4 million people and they can only average 7210 homes? That isn’t much of a fan base after being in Phoenix for 12 years. The NHL claims that they believe that Phoenix can be a competitive market if they start fielding a competitive and contending team. While we could argue whether that is true or not, it does outline a serious issue in the NHL’s business model. That is, not every team can win, and winning teams don’t win forever (except maybe the Detroit Red Wings). You can’t build a business model that depends franchises winning, especially when in some cases you need to win just to break even.

Conference Finals Predictions

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May 172009

I gotta get these conference finals predictions out before the games begin so here goes. I didn’t have a great round last round only getting the Pittsburgh series correct but there were all pretty close series that with a few bounces going differently the results outcomes would have been different as well.

Pittsburgh vs Carolina

I have been surprised by the play of the Hurricanes though I probably should not be. They are an experienced playoff team having won the Cup a couple years ago and they are riding a hot goalie in Cam Ward. That is a pretty good combination that can take any team deep into the playoffs. But now the Hurricanes will be going up against a much more potent offense than the Devils and a team more experienced than the Bruins. I think that means it will be the end of the line for the Hurricanes in these playoffs. The Penguins have something to prove and want another shot at the Cup after losing last year. Penguins in 7.

Detroit vs Chicago

In the last round Detroit squeaked out a series win over a determined Ducks team with great goaltending while the Blackhawks used a couple of third period comebacks to take the series over the Vancouver Canucks. The series against the Ducks shows that the Red Wings are not invincible, but that it will take an outstanding effort and a bit of luck to beat them. With the Blackhawks late game comebacks they have to be playing with a lot of confidence and won’t get down on themselves if they get down in the game early. For Chicago to win they will need outstanding goal tending by Khabibulin because their team defense isn’t as good as they probably would like. While Khabibulin can be a streaky goaltender, when he gets hot he can be as good as any goaltender in the NHL so I would never count out the Blackhawks and as much as I think a Blackhawks-Penguins final would be fun to watch, much like the Pens-Caps series, I think Detroit will pull out a win in this series. Red Wings in 6 to set up a rematch of last years Stanley Cup final.

Or maybe we won't…

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May 122009

Yesterday the court, upon request by Jerry Moyes’s legal team, requested that the NHL present to the court all the information it has on the discussions the NHL has had with Jerry Reinsdorf and his interest in purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes. Instead of doing so, this morning the NHL formally objected to that request stating that Jerry Moyes is not in control of the franchise and this is in no position to request that information and the divulging of that information could jeopardize value for the league.

“There is no justification for the efforts of … Moyes to harass the league with such discovery that may prove wholly unnecessary,” said the NHL’s motion. “Premature disclosure of confidential discussions will jeapordize value for the league and all of its member teams, including the Phoenix Coyotes.”

It is an interesting, but I guess not surprising (delay tactics likely), stance to take because supposedly the NHL was en route to discuss with Moyes exactly what the court requested.

May 112009

According to CBC, and other sources, the bankruptcy court has, upon request from Jerry Moyes, ordered the NHL to turn over documents related to Reinsdorf’s interest in buying the Phoenix Coyotes. The NHL has claimed that Reinsdorf had shown interest in purchasing the Coyotes but as of yet we really don’t know how serious that interest was. There was talk that Bettman was on his way to meet with Moyes about Reinsdorf’s intent to purchase the franchise while others say that Reinsdorf may have only agreed to look into the idea of purchasing the team when requested by Gary Bettman.

I’ll definitely be interested to know how serious Reinsdorf really is because it could provide some insight as to whether there may at some point be another legitimate offer on the table to keep the team in Phoenix for the bankruptcy judge to consider. I’ll also be interested to know how truthful Bill Daly and others have been because publicly they have stated that the negotiations are very far along. But remember, these two for months also insisted there was never a problem with the Coyotes and that they had not taken over control of the team. Of course, we now know that they are insisting that they took over control of the team in December. The best thing about these court proceedings is that we learn the truth.

May 102009

So I sit down for dinner at around 6:30 last night and decide that it is a little quiet so I turn on the TV and watch CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada pre-game show. During the show they had a 15 minute interview with Jim Balsillie (click the link and then click on Inside Hockey: Jim Balsillie). Ron starts off asking the intro question asking Balsillie to tell everyone about what he is doing in putting in an offer for the Coyotes. What came next almost made my jaw drop. Ron MacLean then went on to quote from my article that I wrote a couple days ago. Very cool.

In the comments thread of the previous story I was asked what I thought was the likely outcome of this bankruptcy proceeding will be. The short answer is that I am not a lawyer and thus probably don’t have a clue. But that is dull so let me take a stab at outlining some of the issues that may arise.
I came across a copy of the actual bankruptcy filing which may give us some clues as to where this may lead. What we learn from the bankruptcy filing is that they have valued the teams assets as between $50 and $100 million with liabilities being between $100 million and $500 million. The filing goes on to list the top 40 creditors with secured loans/liabilities (they did not list unsecured loans) of which Jerry Moyes himself is at the top of the list with over $103.8 million being owed to him. The rest of the list doesn’t even total $5 million so by far, Jerry Moyes is the largest creditor. I can only assume that this is money he lent the organization over the past several years to keep it afloat. Other notable creditors are the City of Glendale being owed about $507K and the National Hockey league being owed $271,474.92.

The first defense the NHL is undertaking is that Jerry Moyes was no longer in control of the franchise and that the NHL had been operating it since November and thus Moyes did not have the authority to file the bankruptcy. It will be interesting to see what the NHL’s defense for this is because publicly they have stated on many occasions that they had not taken over the Coyotes, denying rumours that they had. Having no clue what actually happened behind the scenes it is really difficult to determine what the judge will decide here but this might be the league’s best option at stopping the Balsillie. But assuming the NHL can’t get the case tossed out on the grounds that the Moyes wasn’t in control things will get interesting.

In bankruptcy court, the judge’s mandate is to do what he deems in the best interest of the creditors (secured given priority over unsecured) and he has some authority to override existing contracts in order to do so. Moyes has submitted a plan that presumably will keep all of the creditors ‘whole’ meaning that they won’t have to take any cuts in the money that is owed them (i.e. they will be repaid in full). There is little doubt that this offer will be an enticing one for the judge to accept. The only issue is that the Balsillie offer is conditional on him being able to move the team to Southern Ontario. The NHL is going to argue that the Phoenix Coyotes don’t own the rights to an NHL franchise, but rather only own the rights to an NHL franchise in Phoenix and that it is non transferrable. They may have a case here too but it will all depend on the wording of the franchise agreement and what, if any, clauses are within that agreement. If the franchise agreement is explicit in that the franchise is for Phoenix and Phoenix only then they may have a claim, but as we know franchises have been sold and moved (the Coyotes were originally the Winnipeg Jets) so it will be a tough sell on the part of the NHL that the Phoenix Coyotes cannot be moved under any condition.

That might leave the NHL left in a position where the only option to stave off the Balsillie bid is to find another potential owner willing to buy the franchise for enough money to pay off the creditors and be willing to keep the franchise in Phoenix. If this happened then maybe the judge will deem this a better option, even if the offer was lower than Balsillie’s, because he would not have to break any contracts or agreements. But as we know, there is over $108 million in secured debt and who knows how much unsecured debt there is. On top of that Moyes has stated he has lost $73 million over the past three years. It is going to be a real tough task on the part of Bettman and the NHL to find such an owner because that person or entity might have to be willing to pay upwards of $150 million for a franchise that is likely to lose $50-75 million over the next few years. That won’t be an easy sell and presumably Jerry Moyes and the NHL has been looking for such a buyer for the past several months, if not longer, and has come up empty.

That makes the Coyote’s future in Phoenix unlikely at best if the NHL fails in getting the case tossed out of court on the grounds that Moyes was not in control of the franchise and not in authority to file bankruptcy. The only other possible outcome is someone outbids Balsillie be that another owner looking to move the team to Southern Ontario, or someone interested in moving them elsewhere, such as Kansas City. But is there anyone out there willing to pony up $215+ million dollars for a franchise to relocate them anywhere but southern Ontario? I am not sure. For that amount of money the most likely bidders are people looking to move the team to a proven hockey market like Southern Ontario. But you never know. I’ll certainly be interested in how all of this unfolds.

(if there are any lawyers or people knowledgeable on bankruptcy laws out there that have more insight into what may or may not happen I’d definitely be interested in hearing your thoughts)

May 062009

What happened to the Phoenix Coyote’s yesterday is what many people suspected may happen to them for a while. They went bankrupt. They went bankrupt despite the fact that over the past year Gary Bettman has continued to tell anyone who would listen that the NHL as a whole and its member teams are generally doing just fine, despite the economic down turn. Most people were smart enough to not listen to Gary Bettman.

What is interesting this time is that Jim Balsillie sat on the sidelines waiting for the moment for the Phoenix Coyote’s to declare bankruptcy. He has learned from past mistakes when he tried to purchase the Penguins and the Predators only to be foiled by Gary Bettman insisting that he cannot move those franchises. With the Coyote’s in bankruptcy court, the decision may not be completely in the NHL’s hands anymore as a judge will pretty much decide what happens to the Coyote’s and if the judge decides that the best way for the Coyote’s to repay its creditors is to sell the team to Balsillie and move it to Southern Ontario, the NHL may not have much say in the matter.
It should also be noted that the Coyote’s apparently filed for bankruptcy without notifying the league as noted in a statement released from the City of Glendale.

“The decision by the ownership of the Phoenix Coyotes to initiate bankruptcy proceedings without consultation or approval of the National Hockey League is an unfortunate turn of events for the NHL, the State of Arizona and the Coyotes’ loyal fans. Even as the propriety of this unprecedented action is being thoroughly investigated by the NHL, city officials are working diligently to ensure that the public’s interest is fully protected throughout this process.

Upon hearing of the news, the NHL immediately stepped in and took over control of the Coyotes removing owner Jerry Moyes ability to operate the club. The NHL is now operating the Phoenix Coyotes and the NHL’s Bill Daly issued a statement of on behalf of the NHL:

“We have just become aware of today’s Bankruptcy Court filing purportedly made on behalf of the Phoenix Coyotes. We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the petition, including the propriety of its filing. We have removed Jerry Moyes from all positions of authority to act for or on behalf of the Club. The League will appear and proceed before the Bankruptcy Court in the best interests of all of the Club’s constituencies, including its fans in Arizona and the League’s 29 other Member Clubs.”

It’ll be interesting to watch the league make its arguments in bankruptcy court because in theory bankruptcy court is about getting the best deal for the creditors of the Phoenix Coyotes, and not what is in the best interest of the club, the fans, or the leagues 29 other member clubs. The bankruptcy court judge is unlikely to listen to any arguments related to the best interest of the 29 other teams (other than in reference to any money the Coyotes may owe the league from money they were advanced) and certainly not in respect to the fans, except in consideration to any money they may have put down for 20010-11 season tickets (all dozen of them?).

This really was a devious plan that Balsillie and Moyes worked up. Moyes, unable to find anyone to pony up money to take the Coyotes off his hands and keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, knew that the best and easiest chance to sell the team for maximum return was to sell the team to Jim Balsillie. But Balsillie also knew from his Penguin and Predators experience that Bettman could force the sale of the team to another entity, even if the sale price was lower, as he did with both the Penguins and Predators. By taking the league to bankruptcy and then having Balsillie put in the offer they really are taking Gary Bettman out of the equation. I just can’t imagine the angst and anger that Bettman, Daly and the rest of the crew at NHL headquarters is feeling right now. The fate of the Phoenix Coyotes is no longer in the hands of Betman et al but rather in the hands of a bankruptcy court judge. It is quite likely that the only way they can block the sale of the team to Balsillie and have it moved to Southern Ontario is to find a better offer but one has to wonder how likely that is. Plus we know that the NHL Players Association is all for another team in Southern Ontario so they will likely side on behalf of Balsillie as well as might some of the richer clubs that have to pay into revenue sharing. This might be the first stage of Bettman losing complete control over the league.

If I were Bettman I would really do my hardest to embrace Balsillie because he isn’t going away. If somehow Bettman can resolve this Coyote situation, possibly with an owner interested in moving the team to Kansas City or Las Vegas or somewhere else, there are a number of other teams that Balsillie will target. The Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Atlanta Thrashers are anything but strong organizations and the Nashville Predators have still not proven to be financially stable over the long haul.