However, there is a harsh reality looming in Arizona. While the league can claim health for 29 of its 30 franchises, there is one team that doesn't appear immune to the economic problems facing so many. The Phoenix Coyotes have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it appears their future in Glendale is in serious doubt.
There is actually worse news than that for Phoenix fans.
Jim Balsillie has put in an offer on the Phoenix Coyotes.The Arizona Republic story notes that an effort will continue to find others who are willing to outbid Balsillie's group.
According to a media release, the Blackberry billionaire's offer of $212.5 million (US) for the team is conditional on the franchise relocating to Southern Ontario.
"The current team ownership asked that I table an offer to purchase the Coyotes and significant discussions resulted in an offer that is in the best interests of the franchise, the NHL, and the great hockey fans of Canada and Southern Ontario," Balsillie said in the release.
Balsillie has tried to bully teams into the Hamilton, Ont., area for a few years. TSN notes that the league appears to be on to his game, even though this may be his best ploy yet.
Much like Balsillie's previous attempts to purchase an existing franchise, the NHL is once again unhappy with the provision in Balsillie's offer that states the deal hinges on the condition the team can be relocated to Southern Ontario.The big key for the NHL, should they decide to continue fighting Balsillie, will be finding local investors. If the guy has the money, and is willing to take on what has been an albatross of a franchise for some time, I see no reason to deny him the opportunity.
Sources say the NHL is not happy with what is perceived by the league as a powerplay by Balsillie and will wrestle with this matter in court.
The concept of hockey in the desert never had a great shot at being successful. While they had moderate success after relocating from Winnipeg, the Coyotes never got out of the first round, and they haven't even made the playoffs since 2002. When you're trying to grow a new hockey base, "consistent failure stemming simply from bad hockey" is not a good way to get it started.
As a result of the losing tradition, the Coyotes never seemed to grow a serious local following, and never got enough financial support to ensure their viability.
Any new local owners would be taking on a great risk, likely losing money for the first few years as they try to build a successful operation, on and off the ice.
UPDATE: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has released a statement.
"We have just become aware of today's Bankruptcy Court filing purportedly made on behalf of the Phoenix Coyotes. We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the petition, including the propriety of its filing. We have removed Jerry Moyes from all positions of authority to act for or on behalf of the Club. The League will appear and proceed before the Bankruptcy Court in the best interests of all of the Club's constituencies, including its fans in Arizona and the League's 29 other Member Clubs."Sounds like we're in for an interesting couple of months.
Reading this statement, I'm guessing the league has no interest in letting a sale to Balsillie go through.