Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over (Sort of...)

Well, at least one big issue is off the table.

Adios Mr. Balsillie. Seems like we hardly knew yee. Of course, we really had no desire to know yee. Please pack your moneybags and go back to Canada. (But you are welcome to visit anytime, our tourism industry needs your help)

Perhaps the best part of this decision is that we will no longer be treated to Jimberry's smiling picture framed by the Canadian flag every time we open a north of the border website reporting on the Coyotes. That had just gotten bleeping painful.

I won't rehash the entire judgement here but one simple sentence from page 25 pretty much summed it up..."This conclusion effectively is the end of the efforts of PSE, Balsillie, Moyes and The Coyotes to force a sale and relocation of the hockey team."

Thank you Judge Tom.

OK, so now the Balsillie option is off the table. What next?

We know that the Coyotes will play this year in Glendale, the NHL is in charge of revising their bid or finding a new owner and that if a favorable financial deal can be cut, hockey will be assured in Arizona for years to come.

Balsillie has already said he will not appeal. And through his lawyers, Moyes said they are considering next steps but trying to wage an appeal on bankruptcy and franchise law seems to be a longshot. There is no expedient path for an appeal. If Mr. Moyes decides to appeal, he will get on the end of the line and wait his turn in court. It will be a very long time before he will get a hearing, much less any satisfaction.

Of course, if he had competent legal counsel they would tell him that any appeal is a longshot. As I assume they told him when he first tried this whole bankruptcy/side door gambit.

But after watching his efforts as a team owner, I don't know if he would listen to sound legal advice if he got it.

So now the NHL has a clear shot at taking undisputed ownership of the Coyotes. They could continue as debtors in possession, revise their bid (as directed by Judge Baum) and become the interim owners or line up an alternate bidder (did someone say Jerry Reinsdorf?) to complete the purchase through bankruptcy.

And despite what you might have read, the NHL or other owners need not sweeten the pot by adding money to their bid. They could actually lower their offer. The only reason their bid was not accepted was that they tried to exclude claims by Moyes and Wayne Gretzky so that all other unsecured creditors would be paid. That won't happen without another hearing...before Judge Baum. Of course this could mean that some unsecured creditors don't get paid. That won't be good for the credibility of the team around town.

How the NHL chooses to handle this is probably under heavy discussion. The owners of the other teams would certainly prefer to minimize their losses. Lawyers are getting rich and the team continues to bleed cash. No one ever imagined that the league would have to fight to maintain their rights and constitution. That wasn't in the budget this year.

One would also theorize that new owners would prefer to get the team sooner rather than later to start rebuilding the fan base. If the Reinsdorf-Kaites-Tavares-Reinsdorf Jr. group or our friends from Ice Edge are still interested in the team, they now have a window to act.

One can also conclude that The City of Glendale would like to get this mess put away as soon as possible. Of course, that will come with a price for the City. The new owners, whoever they are, will require a new revised lease and the city either needs to pony up now or face more lawsuits and a possible departure of the team.

It would seem like all the elements are in place for quick action. Legal barriers have been removed. The NHL is back in charge, where they should have been all along. And its' in everyone's best interests to get a deal done as soon as possible.

Which would be a refreshing change from the tedious pace we've moved at over the last 5 months.

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