Time for me to disappear for a few days. Need to recharge the batteries before training camp starts. So here's some of the things I am going to miss this week...
The cage match in Judge Tom's court tomorrow
Lots of juicy items to be decided but the big one is whether Jim Balsillie will be allowed to bid in the bankruptcy auction on September 10th. The NHL says "no", he's already been rejected as a potential owner. Jerry Moyes will counter that Balsillie's bid is his best (and only) chance to recover any money on this deal.
Prediction? I think the court will not disqualify Balsillie at this time. Money talks in bankruptcy court. Balsillie has money. I think the Judge is perfectly willing to let other courts sort out this mess. I believe he will follow the money trail and keep the auction open to Balsillie.
And then what? I expect the NHL will immediately appeal his decision to the 9th District Court of Appeals and seek injunctive relief to stop the September 10th auction. This is a strike issue for the NHL. They will not stand by idly and tolerate any process that could deliver the team to Balsillie. This will almost certainly push the auction back past Balsillie's September 14th deadline to complete the purchase. He won't be going away but it will then take the court battle in a new, different and very expensive direction.
And if I'm wrong? And Balsillie gets thrown out on his ear? Then it will be Moyes suing the NHL. Unfortunately he has far less legal grounds than the league does to pull off an appeal and without Balsillie's checkbook and bank of lawyers it may be time for him to fold his hand.
Don Maloney's (rescheduled) press availability
Maloney is almost always available, by e-mail, phone or other means to answer questions. He's been quiet lately and with the pot boiling on so many fronts, it makes sense for him to be keeping a low media profile.
Suspicion? The league told him it would be better to keep his mouth shut rather than deal with tough questions. Like how is this mess affecting the team and who exactly is going to be the coach when training camp opens.
Which leads to another question...
Who is going to coach the Coyotes this year
Rookie camp opens on Saturday. Veterans are due in next Thursday. Sooner or later someone has got to take the reins of the Coyotes.
Prediction? Wayne Gretzky.
Really? Yes. Gretzky has been in an awful position this summer. His contract has been outed and there's no way he will be working for the $8.5MM this year.
But...The NHL doesn't kick icons to the curb. Ice Edge is still a player in the auction process and they want Wayne's World to stay open. I don't see any way Balsillie could ever get control of the team before this season so I anticipate the Coyotes will stay and Wayne will work on a one year contract at a greatly reduced rate. No matter what you think of Wayne as a coach, he's got a lot of sweat invested in this team and he desperately wants to finish the rebuilding job here. This may not be the most popular move with the hard core fan base but it's likely to be perceived positively by the casual hockey fan.
And if I'm wrong? No highly credentialed coach is going to take over this team without some job security. Forget Dave Tippett or Peter Laviolette coming here. If it isn't Wayne, I expect that Ulf Samuelsson (or perhaps someone else within the organization) will be promoted and Sean Burke will slide in as an assistant to help behind the bench.
Have a good week. We'll check in when we can and we'll be actively staying in touch to see how things start to shake out.