The big news out of the desert isn't something we weren't surprised by-- what with the Coyotes apparently filing for bankruptcy, but it's that there's a deal in place with my favorite demi-owner Jim Balsillie to buy the team and that the NHL taking over for former owner Jerry Moyes and will act on behalf of the Coyotes in bankruptcy court.
The deal that is reportedly in place according to court documents is worth about $212.5M, which will be in place by June 30th, 2009 so that the NHL will know where the team is headed and can adjust the schedule/conference/world properly. Balsillie, working under the guise of PSE Sports and Entertainment LP, would take over the team and move them to Southern Ontario, according to the report from the Arizona Republic. The thing with Balsillie is that he isn't as rambunctious as he usually is, which is really good because he's not going to sell season tickets already, but he's plugging his website Make It Seven, which is all that he's doing right now.
Now it's not a done deal yet, as investors can bid overtop of Balsillie, but it has to be at least $5M over the $212.5M and it's a wonder if anyone will step up to the plate when it comes to a team that has hemorrhaged money like the Coyotes have in the past years.
However, another stick in the spokes for Balsillie and this deal is three-fold. First, the NHL taking over the team and may queer the deal in the courts. Second, the Board of Governors holding up any move from the Phoenix region, though that looks less and less likely. And third, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs will be the biggest factor. They have always said that they want concrete evidence that a second team on "their turf" wouldn't hurt their money-making capabilities and regardless of what the BoG votes, they will raise a stink about it and request plenty of compensation from Balsillie for moving into their area, much like the Kings did with the Anaheim Ducks back in '93. And if they don't let this happen, you have to wonder if there will be any resentment between the NHL and it's fans against the Leafs....more so.
While a Leafs ticket is one of the hardest to get, why would they want to deny people seeing any NHL hockey. Isn't that counterproductive to what the NHL wants to do and get people out to the rinks?? Wouldn't a second team in a highly populated area be a the best part, especially if people will shell out money to see either teams, just to see NHL hockey?? You would think that the ability to have hockey in a popluated area with great profit potential will be welcomes with open arms and not shunned. And even if Balsillie puts together a scientific paper showing that the Leafs wouldn't lose their money-making potential and finds out the the meaning of life, the Leafs would probably dismiss it in order to keep all the monies to themseleves.
That's the biggest hurdle right now, the filibuster that is the Leafs. The BoG probably wouldn't be as hard to sway since they would realize that the team in a place like Phoenix would be as desired as a place like Southern Ontario, which will then get the league on board because they ultimately work for the BoG and if Gary Bettman and Bill Daly like their jobs, they'd be wise to keep the BoG happy.
For a guy like Balsillie who is passionate about owning a NHL team and putting one back in Canada like many have wanted for years-- I hope this works out for him. I've always been in your corner big man, I just hope you remember that should you need a sarcastic ass in your entourage when this becomes reality.