There will be one less issue for Judge Redfield T. Baum to deal with in an Arizona bankruptcy court on Thursday, with Ice Edge Holdings confirming they will not be pursuing a bid for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Ice Edge emerged as a candidate several weeks after Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie entered into an agreement on May 5 to purchase the struggling Coyotes through bankruptcy proceedings.
They released a statement regarding their withdrawal on Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, despite the best intentions on both the part of Ice Edge Holdings and the City of Glendale, we have been unable to finalize the details of the amended lease for the Jobing.com Arena in time for Thursday's Phoenix Coyotes auction," the statement read. "As such, Ice Edge Holdings will be withdrawing our bid for the Phoenix Coyotes at this time.
"We continue to strongly believe in the potential of the Phoenix Coyotes for the long term in Glendale, and therefore we will be examining our options after the conclusion of the bankruptcy auction process," they added.
The move was expected. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a court filing on Tuesday the group wouldn't be participating in the auction.
Ice Edge was comprised of North American businessmen and fronted by Daryl Jones and Anthony LeBlanc, who once worked with Balsillie at Research in Motion.
The group raised eyebrows with their proposal to play some Coyotes home games in Saskatchewan, and many hockey observers questioned their ability to get financing together in such a short timeframe.
The court-supervised auction is scheduled to be held Thursday and possibly run into Friday, with Balsillie and the NHL itself the only bidders.
Balsillie, the co-CEO of Research in Motion Ltd., of Waterloo, Ont., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, increased his bid for the NHL franchise to $242.5 million US earlier this week, a $30 million increase to deal with breaking the Jobing.com lease.
Baum will oversee the auction, but first must decide whether or not Balsillie is even eligible. The NHL is demanding Balsillie not be permitted to participate in the auction because the league's board of governors has rejected his ownership application by a 26-0 vote.
The league has cited Balsillie's past dealings in failed purchases of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators. In the latter case, he began taking ticket orders for a Hamilton-based club before the sale was complete.
The Balsillie camp has countered that the NHL is in a clear conflict-of-interest position as creditor, bidder and arbiter of Balsillie's worthiness as an owner.
The NHL doesn't plan to run the Coyotes over the long haul, but wants to regain control and take a potential sale out of the realm of bankruptcy court.
Should they prevail, Ice Edge wouldn't be prevented from working with the league to try and purchase the club.