Overshadowed by the discussion of a relocation fee was the arguments from the City of Glendale at Tuesday's hearing. From most available accounts, the attorneys representing the City made an impassioned and eloquent case why the arena lease should not be tossed out in bankruptcy.
Which leads us to an interesting place.
If Judge Baum (Tom to you and me) decides that the asset is mobile and he forces the parties to set a relocation fee, either by arbitration or negotiation, that in effect means that the franchise could be moved. And while it may or may not determine movement, it would indicate that the judge intends to set aside the Glendale lease. That set aside would come with some level of damages but the return to the city could be negligible.
So if the judge moves us to a "portable" phase, does that mean that Glendale has in effect lost their contention that the lease is ironclad and the franchise is not portable? And if that's the case. what's to keep the City from appealing the decision at that point?
I'm sure that the lawyers representing both the City and the NHL are working closely on this case. It would seem that Glendale may well use this decision as a jumping off point to start a legal appeal in the 9th District Court of Appeals. And probably seek an injunction to stop any sale that would move the asset out of Glendale.
Don't for a minute think Glendale is going to take this decision sitting down. They will independently and aggressively seek to have the lease enforced. The only question I see is timing. If Glendale sees the initial judgement as vacating the lease, I wonder why they would wait to start the appeals process.
Remember that Judge Tom is not available from June 23rd to July 5th. If the Coyotes auction is not settled by June 30th, the Balsillie offer expires. Running out the clock is more closely associated with basketball than hockey but hey, this is a game, isn't it?
And Tom, have a nice vacation. Be sure to write.