Hockey

Ice Edge says Coyotes bid still strong

The Ice Edge Holdings pitch to buy the Phoenix Coyotes is strongly thought to be leaking, but that's not what chief operating officer Daryl Jones told Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday.

The Ice Edge Holdings pitch to buy the Phoenix Coyotes is strongly thought to be leaking, but that's not what chief operating officer Daryl Jones told Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday.

Jones told Hockey Night's Scott Oake that it is in good shape, despite rumblings that Ice Edge is finding it difficult to secure funding.

"[The financing is] all predicated on the deal, and the deal is predicated on a lease. We feel like we're making progress in that front," he said in Phoenix's Jobing.com Arena in between periods during the Coyotes' game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Ice Edge, a partnership of Canadian and American businessmen, was long thought to be the NHL's answer for the Coyotes problem. The league is the current owner of the cash-strapped franchise and is hoping to unload it as soon as it can to minimize losses.

But rumours persisted that the Ice Edge group is having problems financing its bid for the team, and that a group headed by Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, has re-entered the fray to replace Ice Edge as a local buyer.

"I think Jerry being back involved probably validates that there's an opportunity here," Jones said. "He's a very smart, savvy owner. If he's looking at Phoenix that validates our thesis."

The major sticking point stonewalling any bid is the lease on the arena. Any prospective buyer would have to renegotiate the lease for Jobing.com Arena with the City of Glendale, where the Coyotes play, to have any hope of stabilizing the franchise.

Jones said that his group was making progress with the city on the front.

"What I'll say is we've been working with the city [of Glendale] through the weekend, and we feel pretty comfortable that something will be achieved in the short term," he said. "Nothing's been agreed on yet, but we're getting close."

Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison said on Saturday's Hotstove segment that the city in fact favoured Reinsdorf's proposal.

Another twist in the story appeared last Monday, and it took the form of the Winnipeg Jets.

The Phoenix Business Journal reported that the NHL had a backup plan in place to move the team to Winnipeg, where it was founded, if a viable buyer was nowhere to be found. The report was denied by the league.

Even though the Coyotes have turned into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this season, they have still struggled to sell out the arena until recently. Despite the continuing problems at the turnstiles, Jones still thinks NHL hockey has a home in Phoenix.

"I think 14 years of bad management in any business will lead to a lot of losses," he said. "We think that this is a market with a tradition of hockey going back a long ways and we think the bankruptcy gives you an opportunity to rewrite a lot of the contracts which could change the terms of the business and the bottom line."

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