Will Jim Balsillie Take The Phoenix Coyotes Back To Winnipeg?

Martin AverySenior Writer IMay 16, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 11:  Enver Lisin #18 and Viktor Tikhonov #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrate after Tikhonov scored the game winning shootout goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on April 11, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks in 5-4 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Will Jim Balsillie buy the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes out of the Arizona desert and move the team back to Winnipeg? Does the hockey team belong up north, where the desert is frozen?

The NHL is now saying they prefer Winnipeg to Hamilton. Balsillie has said he wants to bring a seventh NHL franchise to Canada, but he has southern Ontario in mind.

The NHL would consider moving the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team to Winnipeg, but not to Hamilton, according to reports published today, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

The Phoenix Coyotes were originally the Winnipeg Jets. Many Winnipegers would love to see the team return. Hamiltonians will be devastated.

The Toronto Star also reported that Gary Bettman would prefer to see the Phoenix Coyotes move to Winnipeg than Hamilton, according to court documents filed as part of the NHL team's bankruptcy.

Bettman indicated the NHL would not support the move because the arena in Hamilton is over 30 years old, the Winnipeg newspaper said.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty isn't ruling out the idea of using taxpayer money to fix up Hamilton's Copps Coliseum to attract an NHL team, according to CBC News.

Yesterday, Jim Balsillie said he would be happy to see the Phoenix Coyotes stay in Arizona for another year, to give the Toronto Maple Leafs time to adjust to the situation, for Hamilton to renovate Copps Coliseum, and make Phoenix happy.

The Sporting News said, "Billionaire tech mogul Jim Balsillie is willing to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona for a season before moving the team to Hamilton."

Organizers of a "Save The Coyotes" rally in Phoenix requested that attendees bring their BlackBerry phones to be destroyed in protest, according to the Phoenix New Times.

Documents filed with the Coyotes' bankruptcy hearing in Phoenix claim Jerry Moyes' sole intention is to sell the Coyotes to the highest bidder, according to Chris Johnson of the Canadian Press, and they also accuse the league of getting in the way of that process with a reported offer from Jerry Reinsdorf, who owns the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox.

The National Hockey League acted fraudulently in its bid to try and take control of the Phoenix Coyotes, Moyes said in a court, according to the Globe and Mail

The Ottawa Citizen noted that "after saying there was no problem in Phoenix, Gary Bettman now has to contend with Jim Balsillie and a firestorm over the future."

Bankruptcy court Judge Redfield Baum is scheduled to rule Tuesday on the cluttered issue of who technically owns the Coyotes: Jerry Moyes or the NHL, according to the Citizen.

Moyes said he stands to lose more than $300 million if the NHL blocks the sale to Balsillie, according to the Globe and Mail.


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