Phoenix Coyotes Will Likely Learn Their Future Within a Week
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The life support monitor—dormant for decades past—appears to have sprung to life.
Riding into the desert on his white horse, with wallet open and heart pounding, Matthew Hulsizer is now on site to save the franchise from extinction.
After meeting with the NHL Board of Governors Dec. 6, outlining his qualifications for owning the Coyotes and displaying his a passion for hockey, Hulsizer could emerge as eventual winner in this protracted soap opera.
For a franchise emerging in the league standings but drowning in red ink, the end of a very traumatic experience could be at end.
The league placed a Dec. 31st deadline for a buyer to step forward, and have the franchise remain in Glendale, Ariz.
Since the NHL took over the Coyotes operations in summer of 2009, many have suggested a myriad of solutions, from moving the franchise to dissolving the team and offering a dispersal draft for its players.
Still Hulsizer, 40, said he is willing to drop substantial sums of money, in addition to his initial $175 million to buy the team, to make hockey operate successfully in the desert.
"I tend to be a longer-term investor," he told ESPN.com." As I look out 25 years, I think people will look back and say 'Hey, that might have looked smart.' Right now, it's not going to look smart for a long time though."
Hulsizer, who founded PEAKS6 Investments in 1997, says he is ready to make changes at the top, but will retain general manager Don Maloney, and Dave Tipppett as coach.
Coming into Thursday's game with Minnesota at Jobing.Com Arena, the Coyotes remain near the top of the NHL in fewest losses.
They also have a Western Division showdown with Dallas at home Sat. Dec. 11th.
For now, the final hurdle for Hulsizer is approval of the Glendale, Ariz. City Council on a new lease for Jobing.Com Arena. That would likely include parking fees, where none currently exists, and possible creation of an entertainment zone where revenues could be generated.
The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night, Dec. 14th, 7 P.M. MST, in the Council chambers.
Hulsizer is acquiring a franchise which lost a reported $30 million a year for the past decade and suffers from a core fan base of just a few thousand.
Attendance continues to drop, and the Coyotes have had crowds of 10,000 or below in seven of their 12 home games to date.
Televising ratings are not much better.
For the games this past weekend, the Coyotes drew a rating of 0.7 TV rating, for its Saturday home game against Florida, and 0.3 rating, for its Sunday game at Anaheim.
Both games were last in the Neilson ratings for these days.
While Hulsizer laughs and says his deep pockets will sustain substantial losses for many years, there may be a breaking point.
Hockey continues to be a tough sell in the desert, but Hulsizer points out he's on board for the long haul.
Support, or lack therefore, should go a long way to define "long haul" in the Coyotes' quest to be viable and find a lasting home in the desert.
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