The Future of Hockey in Arizona Is Getting More and More Confusing

Juan SarinasContributor IMarch 13, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 10:  Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Phoenix Coyotes stands attended for the National Anthem before the NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Arena on March 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 4-3 in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Early in 2010, probably a month or so ago, a group named Ice Edge Holdings had announced that they were putting forth a letter of intent to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes from the NHL (who currently owns the franchise), and as a result keep it in Phoenix (aside from their intent of playing 5 home games a year in Saskatoon up in Saskatchewan, which is alright by me as long as they play the other 36 games in Phoenix) instead of seeing the franchise moving their full-time operations to a city in Canada like Winnipeg or Hamilton.

\Coupled with the Coyotes playing fantastic and above-their-heels at the time and easing their way into playoff contention, that marked such great times to be a fan of a franchise so beleagured and so synonymos with losing and relocation rumors. However, with the calendar year now at the midpoint of March, despite the Coyotes making themselves a much more legitimate team with some spectacular trades during the trade deadline, the future for hockey in the Phoenix-area is just shaky and cloudy - thanks to multiple factors.

Suddenly, as the year has turned to March, we just aren't that sure that the Coyotes will be staying in Arizona for a long term. Coupled with a lack of headway, and a lack of new news regarding Ice Edge's purchase of the Coyotes franchise, and some disturbing news and revelations from Canadian media, and even a blog post that boldly proclaimed that the Coyotes were going to come back to Winnipeg - the future of hockey in Phoenix just got cloudier than ever.

For example, a report from Canada's The Globe and Mail has boldly stated that "Ice Edge will not even get off the runway", and that the group has no one that can basically convince a banker to lend them money to help with the purchase of the franchise. Shaky news.

Another report from the The Globe and Mail wrote that "attempt to complete the sale of the Coyotes to a group of investors known as Ice Edge Investors LLC for about $140-million is grinding along with no closing in sight," and also that "Ice Edge is still trying to get its financing in place."

A report from the Toronto Star said that the "It might make sense for Ice Edge to delay a final sale as long as possible to avoid having to begin paying the bills and funding the losses. But the happy story on the ice won't stop the Coyotes from moving after this season if Ice Edge can't close the deal and another owner fails to step forward."

Notice that all of the aftermentioned papers are Canadian papers, and Coyote fans everywhere know of the Canadian media's obsession about trying to smear Phoenix's future as a hockey city, and sometimes completely disregarding the facts - I mean it was just horrible over the summer with the media up north basically jocking behind Jim Balsillie's attempt at buying the franchise for an outragous fee and then moving it to his hometown of Hamilton.

However, the article that has me most worried, and I don't really know why as the grammar of this article is not one the writer's teacher would be exceptionally proud of, and also it was written in a website not regarded as an accurate source of hockey news, but it still has me worried a tad bit. It's an article titled "They are coming home, The Coyotes ARE returning to Winnipeg" by a Vancouver Canuck "fan" Peter Tessier. Hardly not the most relaible of sources, and certainly not a title a legitimate journalism site would gladly accept, but coupled with the lack of news regarding Ice Edge Holding's purchase, the article does have some points (just not the grammar).

The article spews that "the The Coyotes are coming not the Thrashers," and also that "The team will be moving to Winnipeg for next season". The article also proclaims that "The deal is almost in place and there are a few details to be worked out but this is what I know." Hardly the most relaible-looking source, but it still does make me cringe and worry that the team will indeed be moving up north next year, or maybe the year after next.

To counter these rumors, Ice Edge did release a letter to Coyote fans, which included them saying that "there have been no material changes in the process to date" , and that "The execution of a revised lease is the key outstanding issue, and once completed will allow the transaction to move towards closing." The letter was written by the face of the group, Anthony LeBlanc, who has seemed genuine in his promise of trying to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix.

However, even with the letter released by Ice Edge basically saying that progress will still happen, and the continued success of the team after a successful trade deadline, a deadline which saw Phoenix trade draft picks galore (and also a disappointing Petr Mueller) for proven veterans like Wjotek Wolski, Lee Stempniak, Derek Morris and Matheu Schneider, I still am showing doubts about the future, and I still am legitmately worried about the future of hockey in Phoenix.

See, it really is conflicting that there has been little news breaking after Ice Edge filed their letter of intent to the NHL to purchase the Coyotes earlier in the year, and regardless of their letter that was intended to calm me and other worried Coyote fans down, this is still a worrying sight despite everything else seemingly going the Coyotes way.

Let's just hope everything works out regardless of these confusing times in the desert.