An Arizona bankruptcy court judge delayed a hearing on whether to hold Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes in contempt of court on Wednesday.
Judge Redfield T. Baum said he also plans to rule later in the day on whether Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie can participate in a Sept. 10 auction for the team.
Baum said that decision will be imminent. It is expected to be made public by Thursday.
Moyes disclosed information about one of the bids for his financially troubled team last week.
In response, the City of Glendale — home of the Coyotes — asked for Moyes and his lawyers to be held in contempt on Monday.
The city contends that Moyes violated the judge's confidentiality order when he revealed some of the concessions being sought from the city by a potential ownership group headed by Jerry Reinsdorf.
Moyes's filing last Friday included details of negotiations between Reinsdorf and Glendale.
Reinsdorf has asked for a special taxing district to be created near Glendale's Jobing.com Arena that would pay the new owners as much as $23 million US next year. And if the team was still losing money after five years, Glendale would have to pay Reinsdorf $15 million for each year of losses or allow the team to be sold and moved without penalty.
Glendale claimed in a declaration filed Monday that the disclosure of this information damaged the city's attempts to negotiate a lease for Jobing.com Arena with both Reinsdorf and Ice Edge Holdings, another group interested in buying the Coyotes and keeping them in Phoenix.
"Glendale is absolutely outraged that Moyes and the Jennings Strouss firm would intentionally disclose confidential information produced in discovery and wilfully violate the court's confidentiality order," the city said in the document.
There is no indication that Glendale officials have agreed to those financial incentives, although Glendale lawyers said in court documents last week that the city was "very close to a definitive agreement" that would include "strong economic essentials."
On Monday, Glendale lawyers raised the possibility that the disclosures about the negotiations would chill local offers. At the moment, Reinsdorf's $148-million offer is the only official local bid. Ice Edge is still ironing out its proposal.
"The Reinsdorf group is rightfully upset because the terms with Glendale concern economic issues which it is seeking to resolve in making its bid," the city's lawyers said in court filings. "If the bidders walk away from this Glendale sale process, the damage caused by the disclosure will be staggering for Glendale."
Balsillie has offered $212.5 US million on the condition that he be allowed to move the team to Hamilton.
Moyes, who took the Coyotes into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, wants to sell the team to Balsillie.
But the NHL, which has been funding the club, wants the team to stay in Arizona where it has lost tens of millions since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.
Baum decided on Monday to delay the auction for local bidders until Sept. 10, the same day as an auction for any other bidders interested in moving the team if a local bid isn't accepted.