Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Mediate To A Stalemate

I just came inside from tearing down a rotting, wooden fence in the backyard. We got through about half the fence before we called it quits. However, my dad and I had a great conversation about the Coyotes, where they are moving to, why they should or shouldn't move, and what Jim Balsillie's major malfunction might be. My dad is a traditionalist - he loves the Bruins, Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, Phil Esposito, Milan Lucic, and "playing the game with grit". He hates the fact that there are teams in places where they never have a snowflake, but he supports the growth of the game. It was in knowing this detail that I struck up the conversation regarding the Coyotes.

Basically, it comes down to this mediation process. If the mediation process gets nowhere in terms of closing the chasm between Jerry Moyes and the NHL, the judge has bought himself an additional month of time before he is required to make a decision on who owns and/or runs the Coyotes. However, if the mediation process can bring the two sides together, the judge doesn't have to make a ruling as an agreement will be hammered out.

But that seems completely impossible if you view the NHL's stance on the matter. If they begin to concede some concessions, they will have to be fluff. And by "fluff", I mean items in the agreement that will mean virtually nothing in the overall decision. After all, the NHL has maintained since Moyes filed for bankruptcy that they were running the show in Phoenix. And it doesn't look like they will budge on this stance unless Moyes hands over control in the agreement.

Of course, Jerry Moyes has no interest in handing over control as he is the largest investor in the Coyotes, and clearly wants to maximize his return on investment by selling to the highest bidder, also known as Jim Balsillie. If he grants control to the NHL, he stands to lose the most money on the investment. Any good businessman will tell you that Moyes would have to make some sort of backroom deal with the NHL in order for him to hand over control at this point when he has so much to potentially lose.

That leads us back to a stalemate, and one that Judge Redfield T. Baum has to be anticipating based upon the two sides. Whether or not the NHL had a bid from Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, is anyone's guess at this point, but it is almost assured to be less than what Balsillie offered simply due to the Coyotes' insolvency problems and value of the franchise according to Forbes.

On the other hand, there is a movement to keep the team in Phoenix now as Coyotes' minority partner John Breslow has apparently put together a group of investors to purchase the team from Moyes/the NHL, thereby keeping the team in Glendale. This new team backs the NHL's bid to prevent the move of the franchise. Again, it is speculated that the bid by this team would be significantly lower than what Balsillie's bid was. I'm quite certain that Mr. Breslow would be aware of the value of the franchise.

There is one thing that is certain at this point: the June 22 date that the mediation is supposed to conclude by may not prove anything. However, with the date being that late into the summer, it might just prove to be the best thing that Judge Baum could have done for the NHL, Mr. Breslow, and the fans of the Coyotes.

After all, training camps open just a mere two months later.

My dad? He thinks that the Coyotes should stay where they are. He is convinced that Balsillie is insane for trying to put a team into Hamilton's Copps Coliseum. Most of all, he doesn't want to see the team fail in Winnipeg again.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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