Bettman says NHL Wasn’t Invited to Glendale Meeting as End Appears Near

We have known for quite some time that the Phoenix Coyotes saga in Glendale has turned into a soap opera. However, it hasn’t been quite the soap opera that it is now, if that’s even possible. A day after the Coyotes were swept out of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings, an almost “last ditch” meeting took place yesterday between The City of Glendale, the Goldwater Institute, and a surprise appearance by Matthew Hulsizer, the prospective owner. Few had any real expectations that this meeting would have a miraculous effect on keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix. Those people were right. Again. The meeting was a fuss about nothing as expected and the Coyotes look closer than ever to jetting to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 season.

Hope for hockey in Glendale is fading fast (cr: dougtone@Flickr)

The meeting yesterday between these parties was supposed to only include Glendale officials, Mayor Elaine Scruggs, Goldwater Institute representatives, and one lawyer from Matt Hulsizer’s Peak6 group. Hulsizer himself and the NHL were not expected at the meeting, my source told me. When I ran this by a Goldwater source, they confirmed the report to be accurate. I reported this news on my Twitter account and when Matt Hulsizer showed up unexpectedly at the meeting, I took a lot of heat. I can assure you that Hulsizer was NOT expected to be there originally and was not on the attendee list.

Look, it’s not far fetched to believe that he would show up. Hulsizer attended Game 4 in Glendale and it made sense for him to show his face at the meeting while he was still available to be in town. Hulsizer has said on the record in the past that he was willing to take part in a publicly recorded meeting. Hulsizer left the meeting early, declining to speak with reporters citing the need to catch a plane. Sound like a guy committed and confident about closing this transaction? A lot of respected sources do not expect a deal to get done to keep the team in Glendale at this point. It would take a miracle.

The most relevant thing that came out of the meeting was that both Goldwater and Glendale are still standing their ground. Hulsizer left early. It really has not looked more dire. Everyone believes it was just an 11th hour finger pointing fest. I can’t call the people who think that wrong. There is little to prove otherwise.

Gary Bettman (THW/Mike Colligan)

After I heard the NHL would not be present at this meeting (that was being rumbled about for a couple of days), I asked myself a question. Why at this stage of the game wouldn’t they have SOMEONE there to support this situation on behalf of the league? It was a legit question that deserved an answer. I had a chance to pose this question to Commissioner Gary Bettman on his NHL Hour Radio show yesterday. Bettman responded with a statement that kind of made me chuckle a bit. “First of all we weren’t invited,” Bettman told me. “Second of all, we only recently learned of the meeting. Frankly we’re the sellers of the franchise. The issue that Goldwater is focused on is the relationship between the City of Glendale and the team as it would be purchased by Matt Hulsizer. While we’re always willing to help solve problems where we’re invited, nobody invited us or even told us in advance about this meeting.”

I understand that the league may think their presence wasn’t needed at this meeting. However, I wasn’t buying for a second that they “weren’t invited” or “aware” of the meeting. This information was out in the public for a bit. I asked Goldwater for clarification on whether the league was telling the truth on “not being invited.” Goldwater replied and told me Darcy Olsen said that she asked Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs to invite the NHL. When I placed a call to Scruggs’ office on Friday morning to pose this question to them, my phone call was not returned.

Soap opera, WWE skit, playhouse are some of the terms my readers have used to describe this. They’re right. They’re right now more than ever. The secrets, the falsehoods, the blatant lies and the frustration by all involved is just to the point of ridiculous now. Luckily, it will be over soon. It’s no longer months from now. It’s days or very short weeks away. We’ll know one way or the other real soon. Congratulations to you, to me, to everyone, because I think everyone is tired of it.


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