RIM’s shot at Coyotes gets a jolt from judge

August 5, 2009

Originally set for today and limited to bidders wanting to keep the team in Glendale, Arizona, the auction of the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes has been postponed to give bidders more time to sort themselves out.

Unfortunately for creditors, the best bid by the dollar — a $212.5 million offer from Research in Motion co-Chief Executive James Balsillie — is currently off the ice. Balsillie wants to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario.

The NHL is intent on keeping the team in Glendale, which has not proven to be much of a hockey town. Hamilton might show more promise, being just a short mushing from successful NHL teams in Detroit and Buffalo. But the ghosts of failed franchises elsewhere in Canada — the Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets — are likely to keep haunting the league. Indeed, particularly superstitious fans may start thinking evil spirits are following the Coyotes franchise, which migrated to Phoenix from Winnipeg, where it counted superstars Bobby Hull and Dale Howerchuck among its stars.

Of the qualified bidders, Ice Edge Holdings, a group of Canadian and U.S. businessmen, has offered up to $150 million, and Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of baseball’s Chicago White Sox and basketball’s Chicago Bulls, has offered up to $148 million. They are the ones who asked the court to give them more time to finalize their offers. But with more time, chances are the economic argument of Balsillie’s bigger bid will win out.

In a hearing on Monday, Judge Baum called Balsillie’s offer the “highest and best,” according to a spokesman for the RIM chief, and said he might consider an auction for bidders wanting to move the team. He is expected to decide that possibility Wednesday.

6 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Phoenix not much of a hockey town? Well, not making the playoffs for 7 years will do that to a city. Google Phoenix Coyotes Whiteout, and you will see a full building the first four years they were here, they made the playoffs.
Baum did not call Basille’s offer the best, otherwise he would have already made his ruling prior to ruling him out last month. Can you site your source?

Posted by yotesgirl | Report as abusive

We cite Balsillie’s spokesman there. Whatever Baum says may be immaterial here, though, since the league ultimately has final say on who plays and who doesn’t. My point was that extending the deadline for the deal gives RIM more of an opportunity to make its case to those concerned.

I take your point on winning and losing and its effect on attendance. There are plenty of good hockey towns that don’t have NHL franchises. There are also towns that can keep a stadiums humming through such headwinds as bad teams, losing seasons and management kerfuffles.


You are a joke. Reading this article makes me believe you know nothing about hockey. What a waste of time.

“Hamilton might show more promise, being just a short mushing from successful NHL teams in Detroit and Buffalo.”

No mention of Toronto, which has sold out for decades straight and is worth the highest value of any team in the league?

And what do you mean Hamilton MIGHT show more promise? They will sell out every single game, I guarantee it. People will leave the Leaf fanbase for this team.

Posted by Anthony Donati | Report as abusive

yotesgirl, you are wrong. the coyotes franchise gambled when they built that new stadium in the middle of nowhere thinking that west Glendale was going to keep growing, but the housing market tanked. now, West Glendale is a ghost town and mesa/tempe/gilber residents are not going to drive an hour to see a hockey team in a new, but subpar, arena way out in BFE. This team needs to relocate to Canada where they will be respected…

Posted by tempenative | Report as abusive

Anthony, I wanted to use U.S. franchises as an example, but you are right. The leafs are not only the most likely to lose fans to a Hamilton team, but also are probably the best example of a team that draws well no matter how awful things get, though there are plenty of other examples there as well.


yotesgirl, reread the sentence. The author says it came from Balsillie’s statement and those words came from the Judge. If you can find a link to the transcript, pls post it here b/c I’d like to read it myself. Judge Baum did not “rule him out” last month. What he did was set the relocation auction for Sept 10 for bidders wanting to relocate. Now, everyone has that date including Balsillie. Expect there to be more litigation, as in ‘anti-trust’ because the NHL won’t give in to Balsillie w/o a fight

Posted by namerequired | Report as abusive

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