Monday, September 28, 2009

While (Judge) Tom Slept...

It's been 17 days since bids were tendered in the Coyotes bankruptcy and 5 days since an "emergency" hearing was held to hear the Moyes/Balsillie plea for mediation. A lot has happened in those 17 days.

The Coyotes have cut their training camp to 23 skaters. Surprises? Turris, MacLean, Tikhonov all head to San Antonio while Porter, Lepisto and Winnik make the big club. Management was sending out signals all summer that Turris needed AHL seasoning but it was surprising seeing Tikhonov go down. Turris doesn't have an NHL body right now and there's got to be concern within the organization that he may never become the impact player the team envisioned with the third overall pick. While Tikhonov was clearly rushed last year, his responsible defensive play and NHL size made this reassignment a surprise.

On the plus side, Porter has been noticeable at almost every practice and game I've seen. His play has clearly improved from a year ago. Lepisto is a mobile option on defense who has a nice feel for the game. He also is benefiting from 2 years of AHL seasoning (not a bad idea, eh?)in the Washington system. Vandemeer is oh so slow but he adds grit and experience and Vernon Fiddler is a carbon copy of the player he replaced, Steven Rupprecht.

The downside? Goals are going to be at a premium. It's hard to see this team scoring much more than last year. Unless the offense finds new life, this team will need every ounce of Dave Tippett's coaching skill to keep the goals allowed down and keep the team in games.

Tippett is the Coyotes new head coach. If you haven't heard already, this is the best news the franchise has had all year. Tippett is an accomplished coach who knows how to mold a responsible team. In 6 seasons in Dallas, his teams made the playoffs 5times and the 6th season was wrecked by injuries. His special teams are typically among the best in the league and his attention to team defense is exemplary. And he'll need every ounce of that coaching acumen to bring this team into the playoffs.

The Coyotes also came up with an inventive way of filling the arena on opening night by slashing ticket prices and calling for a the first white-out ever at arena. It appears to be working -- late word from Glendale is that under 2,000 tickets remain for the opener.

While much has happened over the last 17 days, what has not happened is any movement in the team's bankruptcy case.

While The Judge mulls over the case, much still remains unresolved. Opening night notwithstanding, ticket sales still have much ground to make up. A quick check of the dasher boards at an exhibition game showed at least 8 primary sponsor slots still available. Understandably but unfortunately, front office staffers have been jumping ship at an alarming rate.

If Judge Tom was truly committed to enhancing the value of the asset, he would have made the call on this case long ago. Every day that passes is a ticket that goes unsold, a marketing opportunity lost and a further degradation of the value of the asset. While the law needs to be adjudicated properly, this delay isn't helping the asset survive.

The Judge must understand by now that the two sides are not going to work this out. Meditation isn't going to solve the problem. You need two parties that want to settle for mediation to work. The NHL won't settle this case without anything less than a total and complete victory. They not only want to beat Jim Balsillie, they want to crush him. He's cost the league millions of dollars, plenty of bad publicity and much time and energy that could have been better spent elsewhere. Those transgressions will not be dismissed lightly. Or mediated away.

Judge Baum's decision will be appealed by either the NHL or Moyes or Glendale (or all three depending on what he comes back with) so it makes sense that it needs to be legally sound. That said, much of what he decides and writes will come directly out of his June 15th decision. So we'll wait, not very patiently, for the Judge to come in.

But we'll continue to caution him as well as anyone else who is listening that each day lost works directly against what he is supposed to prevent from happening.


  1. Great job!

    Wouldn't Fiddler be considered a carbon copy of Reino but with a better bite. Vern hits, Steve not so much.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. You're right about Tippett - best news in a long time out in Glendale. Also Porter is showing so much more confidence and maturity to go along with his hustle this season. Maybe a bubble playoff team this year? I wonder if you place last years squad in the mid-level for all special teams if they would have been in the mix?

  3. Fiddler is more physical but Reinprecht is a better offensive player. Pretty much a wash.