Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Briefs Are In...

And what fascinating reading they make...

The Toronto Star has a wealth of documentation on their site including the previously secret NHL Constitution and By-Laws, news of a second Canadian group bidding for the Coyotes (clearly one without Jim Balsillie's public relations skills) and news of 3 (that's three, no kidding) Phoenix groups bidding to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix. In addition to the Reinsdorf-Kaites and Breslow offers previously disclosed, there's also a third group fronted by an anonymous Phoenix businessman.

The article also quotes Gary Bettman as claiming in an NHL filing that the City of Glendale is willing to make "accommodations" to enhance the revenue possibilities for the Coyotes.

Lawyers for Jerry Moyes and Jim Balsillie have called numerous parts of the constitution into question as illegal and anti-competitive. Of course, they do not take notice that all league members enter into the constitution voluntarily and benefit from many of the common interest sections of the document. A quick read of the NHL Constitution would indicate that a) it is a thorough legal document, b) it is extremely detailed and nuanced and c) it will take a lot of moxey for a judge to throw out the document and allow an end run through bankruptcy court.

And as was previously reported yesterday, the other three major professional sports leagues have joined the fray, filing a friend of the court brief in support of the NHL.

Several Toronto newspapers have reported this week that the Toronto Maple Leafs have quietly but firmly made their NHL partners aware how vehemently they oppose the proposed move. The Leafs not only control the hockey universe in Southern Ontario, they also control the arena they play in which is a virtual monopoly on one of North America's largest metropolitan markets. While the Leafs franchise could likely withstand any second team in Southern Ontario, their is real concern that money from non hockey events would be diminished by a second NHL team in the area. And while most of the attention of the 50-mile territorial protection has been directed towards the Toronto Maple Leafs, keep in mind that the corporate city limits of Hamilton, Ontario are exactly 43 miles from the corporate city limits of Buffalo, New York.

Of course, we can assume that Glendale has also filed numerous briefs. None are public at this time but they will certainly do everything within the cities' power to tie the franchise to the existing lease.

It will be a fascinating week. The hearing is Tuesday, the judge's decision will likely come by the end of the week and the appeals and further courtroom drama will certainly elevate to a higher level once the initial legal judgement is in. Appeals are almost certain no matter who wins or loses. Much more as we have time to digest all of the documents.

Update 2:10 PM -- The Toronto Globe & Mail is reporting that the second Canadian group bidding for the Coyotes (the owners of the Toronto Argonauts Canadian Football League Team) want to operate the team in Phoenix, not Toronto. Wow.

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