Wednesday, May 13, 2009

He Said, She Said

Slow news day today.

The Toronto Star reported that the NHL wants to keep the Reinsdorf-Kaites offer out of the courts until the proxy issue is settled because the offer is far less than the Jim Balsillie offer..

The Star has learned Reinsdorf was prepared to offer an estimated $130 million (all figures U.S.) - far less than Balsillie's $212.5 million package.

"You have a judge in a bankruptcy court whose responsibility is to protect
the interests of creditors and in doing that he has to maximize any value he can
get," said Richard Powers, a professor of business at the Rotman School of
Business at the University of Toronto. "Look at the difference in price."

No kidding. Sure, the offer is lower. But, they are not buying the same things. Reinsdorf-Kaites is buying what will be a significant and costly turnaround property in Arizona. Balsillie wants to buy the rights to a new team in established hockey territory. Of course, he wants to end run the rules that govern not only the NHL but the same principles that govern every professional sports league. That's why it is a conditional offer.

Advantage to the NHL. The judge has ruled that the Reinsdorf-Kaites offer won't be acted upon until the proxy argument is settled. True that a bankruptcy judge has to maximize the value of the asset. But the Balsillie offer is anything but a clean offer.

And our friend Damian Cox (also from the Toronto Star) has checked in with news that Wayne Gretzky has taken a stand. Well, sort of...

Sources indicated yesterday that Wayne Gretzky is "supportive" of the plan presented by Chicago sports czar Jerry Reinsdorf to buy the Phoenix Coyotes
and keep them in Arizona. Gretzky would stay with the team as head coach under the ownership of a group of investors headed by Reinsdorf that would conditionally offer an estimated $130 million (U.S.) for the troubled Phoenix club

Now Gretzky didn't speak to reporters and he is not likely to. He has a tightrope to walk here. On one hand, he's the coach of the Phoenix Coyotes and appears to have little appetite to move back to Canada. Of course he's also a Canadian icon so speaking out against the move does him no good on the home front. Gretzky's inflated coaching contract would probably pay him almost as much over the next two years as if he cashes out with a Balsillie sale. And despite his detractors, there is little question that he likes coaching and wants to continue, In Phoenix.

Still all quiet on the Reinsdorf-Kaites front. Hope they do not get cold feet while this mess plays out.

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