In a renewed effort to sell to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, the Phoenix Coyotes have asked a bankruptcy judge to set a Sept. 15 deadline for the sale of the financially troubled hockey team.
The Coyotes said in court filings on Thursday that Balsillie's company, PSE Sports & Entertainment, would be willing to extend its bid, which had been set to expire June 29.
Balsillie wants to buy the franchise and move it to Hamilton, Ontario.
But in a victory for the NHL and its push to keep the club in Phoenix, Judge Redfield T. Baum on Monday rejected the proposed sale of the franchise to Balsillie. In a 21-page ruling, Baum concluded the June 29 deadline set by Balsillie did not allow enough time to resolve the complex case.
Armed with Baum's ruling, the NHL said it would begin trying to find a "local buyer." The NHL says four parties have filed preliminary applications to investigate purchasing the team and keeping it in Arizona — including Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of baseball's Chicago White Sox and the NBA's Chicago Bulls.
But the Coyotes say PSE Sports' $212.5 million bid is the only actual offer on the table — and they say the company will extend its deadline until mid-September, which would still allow time for the team to be moved before next season.
"Notwithstanding the deadline for a close no later than the end of June 2009 in the initial PSE offer, PSE has indicated its willingness to continue to bid for the team and the assets, and indeed has indicated willingness to extend its closing deadline to mid-September 2009," the Coyotes said in court filings. "As such, the PSE offer is still a pending offer for the assets, and indeed, the only actual offer the debtors have received to date for the assets."
In a separate filing on Thursday, PSE Sports said it has not abandoned its plan to move the team in time for next season.
"PSE believes it is still possible to play in Hamilton this year ... and will accommodate as much as it can to enable a delayed sale to occur," PSE Sports said in court documents.
PSE Sports also urged the judge to have relocation bids considered along with offers to keep the team in Glendale.
"If there are no reasonable firm bids for the club if it is kept in Glendale, there is no reason to delay consideration of relocation bids, and force a lame-duck season with tremendous losses in Glendale," the company said.
The Coyotes also asked the judge to order the NHL, the Coyotes and PSE Sports to submit to mediation over issues related to a possible move, including a relocation fee. Baum had encouraged the sides to mediate, but the Coyotes said in court filings that the league had not responded to two requests.
Meanwhile, Balsillie will stage a rally on Friday in Hamilton — dubbed "Make It Seven Day." There are six NHL franchises in Canada.
Balsillie believes a strong showing from fans will boost his pursuit to bring a team to the region.
"Make It Seven Day is all about providing a voice to Canadian hockey fans, while raising money for minor hockey teams across the country," Balsillie said in a statement Thursday. "Canadians have proven themselves to be the best hockey fans in the world. They need to be heard."