Sunday, March 6, 2011

What Is The Story With The Phoenix Coyotes?

Being in the Phoenix area I get a court side (or rink side in this case) seat as to the soap opera that has become the Phoenix Coyotes. Since coming to the Valley of the Sun the Coyotes started out on a good note making it to the playoffs 5 times in the first 6 years but then a dry patch hit missing the playoffs for 7 straight seasons (counting the lockout season) before the return of the White Out last season when the team actually hit 50 wins and 107 points.

But I digress to the soap opera storyline that has been prominent in local newspapers as of recent years. First there were the misadventures of owner Jerry Moyer when he intentionally filed bankruptcy merely hours before the NHL made an offer to purchase the team from him in 2009. His reasoning, which backfired, was to file bankruptcy and allow billionaire Jim Balsille to purchase the team out of bankruptcy and move the team to Hamilton, Ontario. You see, Balsille is disliked by the NHL which has thwarted his attempts to purchase teams and move them to Hamilton in the past. So the NHL has owned the team since September 2009 and has attempted to find buyers with little luck until recently when Matthew Hulsizer made an offer. Part of the offer required the City of Glendale (where the Coyotes play) to make a $100 million payment to Hulsizer which he would in turn use as part of the payment to the NHL. The city planned on using bonds to accrue the cash to make the payment but a public watchdog group (the Goldwater Institute) has publicly denounced the bonds and urged citizens to not purchase them because the original reports detailing how the city would recoup the money to pay off the bonds was skewed and there was no way the City of Glendale could cover the repayment of the bonds.

Confused yet?

OK, so now we stand in a situation where the NHL was expecting to sell the team to Hulsizer, who was expecting the City of Glendale to foot a portion of the purchase price, but has now stalled because the bonds are not being sold. The NHL is now working with the watchdog group (Goldwater Institute) to try and work out a deal to where the bonds can be sold thus allowing the sale of the team to go through. To muddy up the situation, the City of Glendale will be filing a lawsuit against the Goldwater Institute Monday morning stating that if the team leaves the city then Glendale will lose more than half a billion dollars.

The kicker of the whole dealio is that if the sale does not go through with Hulsizer then the NHL plans on relocating the team. Where you ask? Why none other than Winnipeg, Manitoba. That is right, the NHL in all its wisdom plans on moving the Phoenix Coyotes to Winnipeg, where the team was located as the Winnipeg Jets before moving to Phoenix in 1996. The Jets moved to Phoenix initially because of financial trouble, the inability to find qualified buyers who wanted to keep the team in Winnipeg and because the city was the smallest market in the NHL. The NHL had publicly questioned whether Winnipeg could even support an NHL team in 1996. Has something changed in 15 years or is the NHL gone bonkers?


  1. first of all Gary Bettman is an idiot who refuses to admit he made a mistake. (let alone hundreds)

    second, yes, Winnipeg has changed. There's a very, very rich man there who likes hockey and there are corporate backers whcih weren't there before. (i.e luxury box sales)

  2. With that being the case then they probably would be better off in Winnipeg.

    Phoenix sadly has never really supported the team and with them being in Glendale now it limits the fan base because nobody wants to drive 45-60 minutes just to watch a 60 minute game (not to mention the $50-60 tickets plus parking fees).

  3. Gary Bettman is a moron. They should have really sold it to Jim Balsille and move it to Hamilton. Balsille is a fan (like Mark Cuban) and willing to make it work. A move to Hamilton should have gain immediate fanbase from the rabid hockey fans up in Canada. Southern expansion been nothing but a failure

  4. I totally agree. The Colorado Avalanche have been succesful since the move from Quebec and the Dallas Stars have had occasional good runs but most of the other Southern teams (move and expansion) have been dismal at best.

  5. A huge reason to keep the NHL footprint in southern cities is for marketing purposes. For example, the new tv contract would never happen if there were no teams in Atlanta, Nashville, Anaheim, Miami, and others. It doesn't matter how well-supported a team in Winnipeg or Hamilton would be. The NHL has always been a predominantly Canadian league that makes a huge chunk of its money in the US. "Southern expansion" is just another iteration of that same theme. It's all about the bottom line for the league itself, but those teams have to be able to make their own profit too. That may be the 'Yotes downfall, not mediocre support.