May 07, 2009
The timing of the Phoenix Coyotes' bankruptcy filing has been curious from the start, as the NHL reacted like Jim Balsillie had just jumped out of a giant wedding cake wearing only a sash that read "Hamilton." (There's a visual.)
News on this situation is flying fast and furious -- witness today's bankruptcy court showdown with the NHL and the promise from Coyotes fans that their campaign to rescue the franchise is about to begin. But one bit of new information seems to indicate why there was so much haste in owner Jerry Moyes's deal with CrackBerry boss Balsillie and his bankruptcy filing: They wanted to beat the clock against the City of Glendale, the NHL and Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf's group of investors.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Reinsdorf is part of a investors group angling to buy the Coyotes and keep them in Phoenix. The Arizona Republic writes that the city was working with this group "hours" before the Chapter 11 filing:
"The city of Glendale is working with interested parties and one of those parties we had a conversation with was Mr. Reinsdorf," Ed Beasley, Glendale city manager, said Wednesday. "We are working with the (NHL) league and will aggressively work to keep this team in Glendale and the state of Arizona."
Beasley declined to provide additional details on negotiations with Reinsdorf, a part-time Paradise Valley, Ariz., resident who, through a spokesman, declined to comment. Reinsdorf is majority owner of the NBA's Chicago Bulls and baseball's Chicago White Sox. Phoenix attorney John Kaites said that he began putting together a team of investors and approached the city and team six months ago about taking over and keeping the Coyotes in Glendale.
It's not all that outlandish to believe Moyes acted quickly because Balsillie's offer wasn't going to be topped by another bidder at this time, and because Balsillie offered immediate and comprehensive relief for the Coyotes' many debts. Any delay would have allowed the NHL to broker its long-promised deal to keep the team in Glendale, and it wouldn't have been for Balsillie money. So Moyes attempted to take control back from the League by going Chapter 11 and making a deal with a dude they'd never deal with.
We have an interesting interview coming up later today on the Coyotes. Meanwhile, three other items for your consideration: Y! Sports editor Ross McKeon's column on the Phoenix collapse; Pat Hickey's column on the many hurdles a move to southern Ontario would face; and what the Coyotes' situation means for Kansas City's bid for a franchise to play in its spiffy arena.