And you thought this would be easy, didn't you?
Apparently since that entire issue is still a sticky mess, like I was talking about a little bit here the other day, Judge Redfield Baum said, "Screw you guys you're going to mediation." Well not quite like that, but he did say that's how this thing will get squared away.
In the aftermath of that decision as well as the choice by Judge Baum to have a relocation hearing in June just a week ahead of the draft has turned this already ample PR game into a sideshow of Bearded Lady proportions.
The good news out of this for fans in Phoenix is that their team probably isn't going anywhere next season. The bad news is that their maybe/maybe not owner Jerry Moyes is busy scorching the earth to make it impossible for anyone with the money needed to make hockey in the desert work to make the investment.
"Even a winning team would not stop us from losing money unless we received some concessions," Moyes said in his letter.
He made no apology for trying to abandon the Phoenix market by selling the team to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, whose $212.5 million (all figures U.S.) offer is conditional upon moving the franchise to Hamilton.
"I have a responsibility to all of the creditors of this business," said Moyes. "No one other than Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie's company has offered enough to pay the creditors, which led to my initiating a court-supervised sale process. This process will be open and transparent, and all offers current and future must be fairly examined; guaranteeing an equitable offer."
In other words, Moyes had this to say to Gary Bettman for butting in on his attempt to backdoor Jim Balsillie into owning and moving the franchise:
Dear Anyone Trying To Keep Hockey In Glendale: Up yours!
Unfortunately for Jerry Moyes and NHL fans in southern Ontario, the NHL and Gary Bettman are always able to unearth someone who wants to keep the show around locally. In this case, word has come out that Coyotes minority owner John Breslow wants to right the ship in Glendale and keep the team there.
Well if that ain't a spike strip on the highway for the trucking magnate.
Of course, since Breslow is a bit late to the party and given how well him stepping up to save the franchise in Arizona would work out for Bettman, you'll have to forgive me if I worry about his full-fledged financial credentials.
After all, the last guy that stepped up this big to keep a team in a struggling market seemed to have some issues of his own.
I certainly don't think that Breslow is a crook here, but this is the bed Herr Bettman has made for us by putting his faith in people who are scumbags, scam artists and all around pricks.
That's not even taking into account Len Barrie and Oren Koules in Tampa Bay who have made it their mission to ruin Tampa, Florida as the shining example of how the NHL can work in a non-traditional hockey market.
I know that sounds goofy and all, but the attendance figures speak for themselves in the case of the Lightning.
2009: Lightning were 22nd in average attendance (out of 30) filling up at an 85.6% rate and over 16,497 per game.
In previous seasons?
2008: 8th (18,692 per game)
2007: 3rd (19,876 per game) filling at 100.6%
2006: 2nd (20,509 per game)
2005: No Season - Thanks Gary
Forgive me if I don't completely buy into John Breslow being the knight in shining armor for the Coyotes because Gary's track record in being able to pick a winner is less-than stellar.
Even better still is that Jerry Reinsdorf was the guy Bettman was pushing as the guy who would get the sweetheart deal even though his plan was to fire Gretzky and move the team to Las Vegas in two years.
That makes me wonder if Bettman refers to Reinsdorf as "Boots" just out of habit. You know, since Boots Del Biaggio's whole plan with the Predators was to supposedly move them to Kansas City yet Bettman was completely unaware of all this.
What a joke.