Ok, I’ve been quite about this little story that brewing in the NHL world that perhaps the time has passed for the Phoenix Coyotes potential sale to Matthew Hulsier, under whom the franchise was to remain in the state of Arizona and continue to lose money. If you do not know, the Coyotes went bankrupt after losing money due to low attendance in Arizona and the franchise is being maintained by the NHL directly. The NHL’s commissioner Gary Bettman would love to see the team remain in Phoenix under a new owner but the sale to Hulzier had hit a bump on the road with the government watchdog stepping in and ruling out the sale if more local money is to be spent to finance the sale. Hulzier’s sale depends on getting some money footed by the city for loses that might be incurred.
What this means is that if a solution does not materialize soon, the sale will not go through. At this point there are just two options for Bettman and the NHL a) continue to finance the franchise directly, which they have already stated that they do not wish to do for another year or plan b) sell the franchise to another buyer who is ready and willing. The potential buyers are True North , a group fronted by are Mark Chipman who is backed by Canadian billionaire David Thompson, and who would move the franchise to Winnipeg. You remember Winnipeg?
The Coyotes used to be The Winnipeg Jets In the World Hockey Association, the Jets won three Avco World Trophies (1976, ‘78 and ‘79). Their 17-year NHL existence was a little less noteworthy. Their best season was 1984-85. They finished the regular season with 96 points – but they were swept in the Smythe Division Final by the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers. In 1996, Jets owner Barry Shenkarow culminated two years of trying to peddle the Jets by selling to Richard Burke and Steven Gluckstern, who moved the team to Phoenix and re-branded them as the Coyotes and who were later bought by Jerry Moyes.
So Winnipeg waits and watches as the Coyotes finish out their regular season and move into the playoffs. Once the season ends for them – when they are out of the playoffs (or if in an ironic twisted tale of biblical proportions, actually win the Stanley Cup) the decision will be made. Either the franchise stays back in Phoenix or gets sold to Chipman & Thompson and moves back to their true home in Winnipeg. I can’t wait; this time there seems to be a really good chance that it will happen. Go Jets! Will we see you in Winnipeg?