Ice Edge courts Gretzky: Hotstove
The company that has just signed a letter of intent to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes is also reaching out to Wayne Gretzky as a potential partner, Hockey Night in Canada contributor Pierre LeBrun told Saturday's Hotstove segment.
"I'm not getting the sense that he wants to do that," LeBrun said.
It's expected that Gretzky will also receive an offer from his former teammate and good friend Mark Messier to coach Team Canada's entry at the world championship.
Since the NHL purchased the Coyotes from bankruptcy court this fall, Gretzky has remained silent on the situation and his future plans. Gretzky was part owner of the team and the NHL still owes him about $8.9 million.
After coaching the Coyotes for four seasons, Gretzky resigned from the position prior before the 2009-10 campaign, when it was clear the team's ownership situation was far from being resolved.
"He's ticked off, and why wouldn't he be," HNIC analyst Mike Milbury speculated.
Ice Edge Holdings signed an agreement Friday with the league to buy the franchise for $140 million US and has promised to keep the team in Arizona.
It will be presented to the NHL's board of governors at a meeting Monday in Pebble Beach, Calif., for their approval. According to Daryl Jones, one of the managing partners with Ice Edge, his investment group has agreed to two conditions:
- 90 per cent of the $140 million US deal will be paid in cash.
- Ice Edge has agreed to a 26-year lease with Jobing.com arena in Glendale, Ariz., with no "out" clause.
"I understand that they want to show some faith in the community," Milbury said. "But does it have to be 26 years? That's a lot of faith.
"I've met so many guys with so much intelligence, who have made so much money elsewhere, and then they come into hockey and act like complete idiots," he said.
HNIC contributor Elliotte Friedman, who spoke to Jones earlier, said the new ownership group believes the 26-year commitment is the only way to show fans that they have no plans to leave Arizona.
Since the letter of intent was signed, there has been no word on Ice Edge's plans to have the Coyotes play five regular-season games a year in Saskatoon.
Many of the NHL's owners are skeptical of the deal with Ice Edge, LeBrun said, and it's likely the board of governors will also discuss contingency plans involving Canada.
Quebec City, Winnipeg and a second team in Toronto are all possibilities that will be examined at next week's meetings.