Phoenix Coyotes Making Playoff and Sale Progress

The Phoenix Coyotes continue to battle to make the playoffs despite puke buckets behind the bench, with a win over the listless Avalanche last night lending a hand. More importantly they continue to work to resolve what’s become known as “The Coyotes Saga” over four years of bankruptcy and failure. The City of Glendale has also been working hard, as have a succession of groups looking to buy the team from the NHL. Lately, even the NHL has ramped up their work ethic and it seems clear there will be a positive outcome for most concerned in the near future.

Let’s start with a tweet from ESPN’s Craig Custance this morning:

We’ve heard statements like THAT so many times before that we’re all immune and most refuse to believe anything similar from Gary or Bill Daly. This time, however, it’s different. Lots different.

Coyotes Sale – Buyers In Public

Over the past several weeks, potential Coyotes buyers have engaged more publicly than at any time in the past except for when Matt Hulsizer was the active participant. Yesterday, I wrote a blog post (“Coyotes Glendale Challenge“) about the currently active bidders for the Coyotes and what they might expect from Glendale once they get their ducks in a row with the NHL and approach the city for a place to play.

Kelsey Stephens and Matt Hulsizer
My daughter and Hulsizer

The active list of bidders include groups led by Darin Pastor, Greg Jamison, George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc. A usually very reliable source has said that Matt Hulsizer is back in the fray with a legitimate bid.

Full disclosure? I hope Greg Jamison prevails. For lots of reasons, not the least of which being the class he has displayed from day one of his involvement. That said, my ultimate goal is to have the Coyotes remain long term where they belong, which is here, and that any agreements are fair to all involved.

Last night at the game, I spoke with Glendale Council Member Gary Sherwood who verified that the John Kaites group is also still active and was at the game.

George Gosbee was again spotted at the game, he even spent some time chatting with Coyotes Keith Yandle and Captain Shane Doan as well as President and COO Mike Nealy.

These guys are obviously NOT just taking advantage of free tickets, all of them could buy a ticket and hang out without being recognized. If any of these guys were looking to move the team elsewhere, what would be served by coming to games and mingling with the people they were planning to disappoint? How would attending the recent sold out, loud, WINNING home games full of enthusiasm and buzz DESPITE a bleak playoff picture and a team STILL in limbo affect you sitting on the glass or in a box? Attendance in this shortened season is UP significantly despite reductions in giveaways (other teams lead that category, subject for another time), the continued exhaustion of four years of ownership woes and the expiration of a deal that was very close to fruition. There are nothing but positives in arena.

I understand the reluctance of the Seattle and Quebec City contingents to believe ANY of this information, there’s enough history of dashed hopes that most  Coyotes fans also refuse to believe there is a resolution in sight. Fair enough, but a logical examination of the facts should be encouraging to current Coyotes fans in Arizona. Take any one fact by itself and it’s a yawner. Put the pieces together and then even a quote from Gary Bettman gains some gravitas.

Glendale Is Quiet

Coyotes being discussed by Glendale Mayor Scruggs
former Glendale Mayor Scruggs discussing Coyotes

There has been an uncharacteristic and notable silence from Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers regarding the Coyotes. As soon as he took office, he was stating people were calling him with interest for the team, of course without providing any specifics. He developed a “four way” arena management scheme that wouldn’t even work in Sim City. Recently, he and the City Council have been more circumspect in their statements regarding the Coyotes and the city owned arena.

None of that means they aren’t working on it nor does it mean they are stupid. The characterizations of Glendale actions being made online and in the hockey “press” suit the arguments of the writer, they usually have nothing to do with the reality of the situation. One fact of the matter that can’t be argued is that the Coyotes are STILL in Glendale after four years of strife and the Glendale city government has a lot to do with that. So feel free to dismiss them as being clueless, certainly there have been mistakes made, but it’s the mark of a person undereducated or simply ignorant in this matter to characterize the Glendale city government in that fashion.

Foreign Intrigue

Over four years of this, locals have seen the emergence of self proclaimed experts, almost exclusively from Canada, more than happy to offer their opinion on local, state and US law. There are “experts” from Canada that know the Glendale City Charter inside and out. Most of the same experts are clairvoyant and know what Bill Daly and Gary Bettman are thinking every minute. The same experts know the financial condition of Matt Hulsizer and Greg Jamison. The same…

You get the point. The point is that nearly ALL of these experts have never bothered to pick up the phone to call any of the people in question, attend a city council meeting or even go to a Coyotes game. Yet, they’re quick to dismiss the people who have done all those things and have actually put in some work to figure out what’s going on and, in some cases, have worked to influence the outcome.

Those “experts” will never be convinced until the bitter end. Could that bitter end mean the Coyotes move? Yes, that’s always been and continues to be a possibility. What’s NOT a possibility is any of the people that are truly involved waving the white flag of surrender, if you get my drift.

The arena is not on the public agenda for the Tuesday meeting. This means nothing.

Gary Bettman
Gary Bettman runs the show. (Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE)

NHL Running The Show

All signs point to the NHL taking the reins in the Coyotes mess. All signs point to several deadlines, hard or soft, at play currently.

The first apparent deadline is for preliminary bids or proposals to be submitted to the NHL and it seems to be this coming week. Pick a day, I don’t know what it is. Groups have already submitted their proposals and the word is that Mr. Jamison (at least) will be getting his paperwork in shortly.

The second deadline will likely be presented by the tag team of the NHL and the anointed buyer. It’s possible that Glendale will get their own shot, using Beacon Sports Capital, to vet ALL the proposed buyers. I think that’s unlikely, although the reappearance of John Kaites hints that the close connection Jerry Reinsdorf has with Beacon could make it happen.

My theory is that a more realistic scenario is the NHL and the new owner will briefly be willing to negotiate the details of an arena management agreement and, if there is no solution in Glendale, move down the road to Phoenix or even out of state. There’s some speculation that the NHL might even decide to remain the arena managers, renting the room to the Coyotes for awhile. What probably isn’t going to fly is a third party arena manager being involved unless it’s AEG (a possibility) or another firm of similar means.

We should see more details emerging next week.