Scott Bordow: Six months later, we still don’t know who owns the Coyotes.
The Phoenix Coyotes declared bankruptcy on May 5.
Here we are, nearly six months later, and we still don’t know who owns the Coyotes. Just who won’t: Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie.
Judge Redfield T. Baum finally made a ruling Wednesday, if you can call it that. He said Balsillie is no longer a potential buyer for the team because moving the club to Hamilton, Ontario would violate league rules.
But he didn’t exactly award the club to the NHL, saying the league needed to amend its bid to give owner Jerry Moyes and former coach Wayne Gretzky more money.
So where does that leave the organization, the players, the fans and everybody else with a stake in this legal Rubik’s Cube?
In limbo. Still.
Even if the NHL eventually satisfies Baum and takes over the Coyotes, the club’s future is hardly secure. Remember, the league previously said that if it can’t find a local buyer by the end of the year, it would seek to move the franchise.
There have been rumblings that Jerry Reinsdorf – remember him? – will re-emerge and purchase the team from the NHL. But Reinsdorf already has struck out once in trying to negotiate a new lease with the city of Glendale. What would be different the second time around?
Then there’s Ice Edge Holdings, which bowed out prior to the auction date but still has dreams of awarding the Coyotes dual-nation citizenship.
Finally, Kansas City has a sparkling new arena and no team to play in it. KC might not be a hockey town but since when has that concerned the NHL?
In other words, we’re no closer to a final resolution than we were back in May. But it has been fun to bone up on bankruptcy law, hasn’t it?
As the case has moved along, some have painted Balsillie as the villain for trying to force his way into the NHL through the back door.
Well, Baum took Balsillie out Wednesday. So now the onus is on the NHL.
For months now commissioner Gary Bettman and his minions have been telling us that all the Coyotes needed was new ownership, a playoff series or two and – presto – hockey and the Valley would go together like chocolate and peanut butter.
Well, here’s Bettman’s chance. Give Moyes and Gretzky their money so the Coyotes can get out of the courtroom. Then find a buyer who wants to keep the team in Glendale and help to arrange a new lease with the city.
That shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Not after all the promises and encouraging words from Bettman.
Of course, there’s always the remote possibility that Bettman was just being a politician, scratching Phoenix’s back in an effort to keep Balsillie out of the league. But that would be disingenuous, and Bettman has been straight with us from the beginning.
Except of course, when he said that the Coyotes weren’t having money problems. Or when he assured everyone that the league wasn’t helping to pay the team’s bills.
Other than that, he’s been a fountain of honesty.
Look, I stand by what I’ve said before: I don’t think the NHL will work in the Valley.
But I hope Bettman is a man of his word and the Coyotes are here for years to come.
The city of Glendale certainly doesn’t deserve to be jilted, and I’d hate to see more people lose their jobs.
By the way, the Coyotes open the season Saturday.
Hopefully, it’s not one final lap around the rink.