September 22, 2011
Within the context of the Phoenix Coyotes' ownership plight, Jerry Reinsdorf is like that old friend from your hometown that's always there to pick up the pieces after a breakup and, perhaps, give you some lovin'.
You know in your heart it's a temporary fix, because he or she has a wandering eye and little patience for a long-term relationship. But familiarity, and a fleeting panacea for your despair, keep you coming back.
Which is to say that the NHL has once again gone back to Reinsdorf, the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner, to try and find someone/anyone to take the Coyotes off their hands. From the Arizona Republic:
Speculation about Reinsdorf's interest has been tossed around in recent months, but a spokesman for the group on Wednesday confirmed for The Republic that they are in talks with Glendale and the National Hockey League.
Tony Tavares is also part of the group, Glendale Hockey LLC, according to David Leibowitz, the group's spokesman. Tavares is a longtime hockey and baseball executive who is interim president of the NHL Dallas Stars.
Leibowitz could not provide details about the financial stake of each partner or other investors, although he said [John] Kaites is the managing partner. The city and the NHL are working with a second group of potential buyers, as well. That investment group emerged last month, led by Greg Jamison, a former chief executive of the San Jose Sharks.
We've done this dance how many times now?
Recapping the Reinsdorf/Coyotes tango:
• The City of Glendale was working with Reinsdorf's group in May 2009 when Jerry Moyes and Bettman nemesis Jim Balsillie beat the clock and sent the Coyotes into bankruptcy -- their failed plan to transfer ownership to the CrackBerry billionaire through the courts.
• In August 2009, Reinsdorf's group exits the Coyotes auction, citing the expedited timeline from the court and an inability to secure a lease deal with the city. The NHL steps into the auction itself and eventually wins ownership of the team.
• In April 2010, Reinsdorf's group was back in the mix, getting approval from the Glendale City Council on a preliminary lease agreement. This victory came at the expense of Ice Edge, the ownership group backed by a number of Coyotes fans, dealing it a significant setback.
• In May 2010, Reinsdorf's bid "died" and the city turned back to Ice Edge, with a relocation to Winnipeg looming if a deal couldn't come together.
• In May 2011, Ice Edge was done, Matthew Hulsizer was in, and Glendale and the NHL continued to court Reinsdorf's group to purchase the team or provide competition to Hulsizer's group for its ownership rights. Reinsdorf's group, meanwhile, wanted an out-clause in any deal. Wrote the Phoenix Morning Call at the time:
"Personal friendships between Reinsdorf and Bettman, and between Reinsdorf attorney John Kaites and Beasley, help continue to keep the Coyotes' door open. Kaites has also been helping the NHL with its Coyotes dealings in Arizona."
• In Sept. 2011, Hulsizer is out, and Reinsdorf's group was vying with the Jamison group for control of the Coyotes.
Jamison's bid was intriguing on several fronts, especially with his history of helping to turn the San Jose Sharks' finances around early last decade. Unfortunately, he's not good buds with Gary Bettman, nor does he someone like Kaites on his team, who was hired by the NHL to help broker previous ownership deals with Glendale and now wants to own the team again.
The old boys network is tough to break up.
The good news is that neither ownership group needs the city to sell bonds to fund the purchase, meaning we could avoid the political quagmire (giggity) that derailed Hulsizer's purchase.
The bad news, at least for Coyotes fans, is that we just don't know if Jerry Reinsdorf's that into you.
The really bad news, for all of us: It's Sept. 22, 2011, and the National Hockey League still owns and operates the Phoenix Coyotes.
UPDATE: Via reader David, a good update on the ownership derby from Mike Muraco:
The Jamison group has said nothing. No sign of Greg, no press releases, nothing. I believe the reason is that they are a group of businessmen who know how to run a hockey franchise. They are not guys who just want to boast their egos by sitting on the glass or entertaining in their private suite. They run sports franchises, rather than sell mutual funds, own a trucking company, or made their monies is some non-sports related field. They have backgrounds of running sports businesses.
As I have mentioned before, money is not the challenge. They have raised approximately $400 million. They have even turned down investors. The Jamison group has a long-term plan to make hockey work in Glendale — a minimum of seven years.
The biggest challenge I think they have had over the past month is trying to put the puzzle together and finding the right fit for each owner in the ownership group.
Again, this group appears to be what's best for the franchise. Trouble is that the NHL and the city can't quit Jerry.