March 29, 2010
For those scoring at home: The Phoenix Business Journal reported Monday (via two unnamed sources) that a deal between the NHL, Toronto billionaire David Thomson and Winnipeg-based True North Sports and Entertainment "has been completed in principle and could have the Coyotes back in Winnipeg next season if necessary" if either Ice Edge Holdings or Jerry Reinsdorf are unable to keep the team in Glendale.
Hold up, wait a minute: The Winnipeg Free Press reported later in the day that relocation to the MTS Centre was a "Plan C" and a bit of a long shot.
Tonight, the NHL commented on the scuttlebutt, with deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirming discussions with Thomson and Manitoba Moose governor Mark Chipman while denying that a "safety net" deal is in place in case Glendale can't make a deal with new owners.
From the NHL:
"In response to the many inquiries we have received in light of the story in the Phoenix Business Journal this morning, we would like to make clear that at this point in time the National Hockey League has no 'deal' in place to move the Coyotes' franchise to Winnipeg -- or to any other city for that matter -- in the event a transaction cannot be timely consummated in Glendale.
"Our focus continues to be on completing a transaction with local ownership that is committed to operating the team in Glendale. Based on the communications and information we are receiving on a regular basis, the stakeholders involved continue to express a high level of confidence that that can be successfully achieved. We will not focus on completing arrangements for one or more alternative option(s) until such time as it may become necessary.
"With respect to Winnipeg and Messrs. Chipman and Thomson, we have had ongoing discussions over time regarding their potential interest in owning an NHL franchise (as we have had with a number of other individuals and cities around North America) and potentially bringing an NHL franchise back to Winnipeg. It remains an intriguing possibility and one we would consider given appropriate circumstances, but there is nothing new to report on that front at this time."
The timing of this Winnipeg dust-up is interesting, as Ice Edge and Reinsdorf are filing arena lease proposals this week to the Glendale city council. Nothing underscores the importance of a favorable lease like the welcoming arms of a Canadian city next season, right?
For more on the Manitoba angle, check out our story on how Winnipeg Jets fans reacted to the Coyotes' bankruptcy last year.