Keeping Coyotes in Phoenix is proving tough sell | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaKeeping Coyotes in Phoenix is proving tough sell

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 | 01:01 PM

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Mikkel Boedker (89) of the Coyotes skates up ice in a 4-0 win over the Predators at Jobing.com Arena on Monday. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Mikkel Boedker (89) of the Coyotes skates up ice in a 4-0 win over the Predators at Jobing.com Arena on Monday. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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This Phoenix Coyotes' sale story is like Freddy Krueger. Just when you think it's dead, along comes a sequel.

This Phoenix Coyotes' sale story is like Freddy Krueger: you think it's dead, but there's always a sequel.

"We will not be able to complete our purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes today in time to meet our deadline with the city of Glendale," prospective owner Greg Jamison said Thursday in a statement. "However, our journey to purchase the Coyotes will continue."

Under what circumstances?

This is a terribly disappointing day for the team's employees, who were understandably jubilant when Glendale City council approved a lease that would pay Jamison $308 million US over 20 years to operate Jobing.com Arena.

It was a spectacular coup, although a controversial one. For the people whose livelihoods depend on the team, there was real optimism that money, plus improved revenue-sharing in the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement, would allow Jamison to find investors.

Obviously, it didn't happen and it appears the challenge is going to get more difficult. The city's new mayor, Jerry Weiers, made it very clear the owner-friendly lease would vanish, never to be seen again. So now we have a new set of questions.

What is the new mayor willing to do?

While watching NHL games Thursday night, I flipped through the Jobing.com "Arena Calendar" for 2013. Guess how many events are booked in the arena that have nothing to do with the Coyotes? No peeking! Ready?

Nine.

That's five days of the Arizona high school basketball championships, two nights of Taylor Swift, one night of Bon Jovi and one night of The Who.

According to the website, there is not one event booked in the facility from May 30 until January 31, 2014. Even if this is some kind of formatting error, I've been told Glendale is not exactly a hot concert stop.

I can understand why Weiers didn't like the sweetheart deal Jamison couldn't close, but is letting the arena become a ghost town the right financial decision for the city? From 3,000 kilometres away, I have no idea. Maybe it is, but that's what Glendale is looking at if the Coyotes leave.

What does Jamison want?

He is taking a beating right now and it's deserved. For months, he's denied he didn't have the money to close this deal and there are people in both the hockey and business side of the organization who feel misled.

Jamison says he will continue to pursue ownership, but how?

If he had the money, this would be over. If he could find a willing partner to take advantage of the sweet lease deal, this would be over.

Or was he asking for something that potential partners didn't want? Maybe a stake in ownership without putting up the cash for it? Maybe a contract as president or a consultant-type role? We'll probably find out the answer to these questions when we learn the answer to the next one.

Is there anyone else willing to try?

A lot of skepticism. We've been down this road before, but there are reports everywhere that Matthew Hulsizer, linked previously to both the Coyotes and St. Louis Blues, will take another run at this.

One of the more interesting theories is that there will be some kind of partnership with the Tohono O'odham Nation, which is trying to build a casino in Glendale, but that's mired in a huge legal fight.

The short answer is it probably depends on what Mayor Weiers is willing to do. Which brings us to...

Seriously, does the commissioner's patience ever run out here?

Forbes.com reported the Coyotes will go to Seattle should the NBA's Sacramento Kings complete a move there. It makes sense, but don't dismiss the possibility this is a shot across the bow.

Last year, several reports indicated there were four locations the team could move to -- Kansas City, Las Vegas, Quebec City or Seattle. Sources say that didn't happen (I was one of the guys who reported that, too), but now that the lockout is over, this is the one "must-deal-with" on NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's list. When does he finally say enough is enough?

On Friday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly issued the following statement: "We remain hopeful the Coyotes sale process will be resolved successfully and we will continue to work with the City of Glendale to move the process forward."

In past seasons, the city paid the league a $25-million subsidy. That payment wasn't renewed for 2012-13 and $5 million reportedly remains unpaid from last year. Even in a short season, there is a large risk.

There is no doubt he will continue to search for some kind of local solution. He is indefatigable that way, but are we any closer to the "Winnipeg Timeline," where if the team is not sold by May, a move is upon us?

We've thought that for years now, but Seattle is an intriguing option. The Kings' saga is another story that refuses to die, with multiple reports of moves already proving false, and Sacramento continues to work to save its team.

However, if the team does relocate, it gives the NHL a west-coast option. That leaves Quebec City and somewhere else (*cough* Toronto *cough*) for expansion, but that's just guessing for now.

There are a lot of Arizona-based employees hoping that, somehow, the Coyotes outlive us all.

Follow Elliotte Friedman on Twitter @FriedgeHNIC

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