March 22, 2010
Now that they've tied the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Western Conference with 97 points and skated past the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead, it's time to stop treating the Phoenix Coyotes as an enchanting anomaly or the Ricky Vaughn-era Cleveland Indians on ice.
They're also owned by the National Hockey League at the moment -- until Ice Edge gets what they want from Glendale, or Glendale gets the Jerry Reinsdorf it wants from an ownership group.
Acknowledging this as the long-shot it remains, let's say the impossible becomes possible and the Coyotes go from bankruptcy to the Stanley Cup in the span of a season, while the NHL still technically owns the franchise. Beyond the incredibly awkward moment when Captain Shane Doan(notes) is given the Cup by a team owner who happens to also be the League commissioner, another unavoidable question emerges:
Who will be listed on the Cup as the owner or owners of the Phoenix Coyotes?
The current hockey operations team is basically the de facto ownership group: Managing the team day-to-day, representing it for League matters. But it's an NHL tradition to have the names of owners and managers engraved, as was done for the Pittsburgh Penguins on their 2008-09 Cup.
We've done some poking around on the NHL/Coyotes/Cup names front, and can offer the following as informed speculation.
If Ice Edge or another group has closed on ownership of the Coyotes by the time (and if) they win the Cup, those owners could have their names on the Chalice.
Before you get all "they're not worthy!" on this: Here are the requirements for getting one's name on the Cup, and having one of those Ice Edge guys still isn't as the affront of the Hockey Gods that having Danton Cole on the 1995 Devils Cup remains.
If the NHL still owns Phoenix and it wins the Cup, there won't be a specific ownership group listed with the team. No blank spaces ... just no owners. We're confident that there won't be a Gary Bettman, Bill Daly or "NHL Board of Governors" on the Cup, under any circumstances. Which is a relief, because "The Fix Was In" would replace "History Will Be Made" as the official playoff slogan were that the case.
An official comment from the Phoenix Coyotes about owners-on-the-Cup: "With so many uncertainties pertaining to this question, commenting would be pure speculation and inappropriate at this time."
Speculation aside, what we'd love to see happen if the Coyotes win the Cup without a new owner:
Put Judge Redfield T. Baum's name on the Stanley Cup.
Because other than Dave Tippett and Don Maloney, he's the single most important reason why Phoenix is where it is this season. Which is to say "not in Southern Ontario."
Redfield T. Baum, Stanley Cup champion. Make it so! At least until his name is covered in a series of "X's" like Basil Pocklington's, in hindsight.