x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Coyotes are staying put

Judge rules there is not enough time to resolve issues surrounding move to Hamilton.

Phoenix Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky, top, may have to take a pay cut now that the franchise are staying in Glendale, Arizona.
Phoenix Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky, top, may have to take a pay cut now that the franchise are staying in Glendale, Arizona.

PHOENIX // The NHL's Coyotes are staying in Phoenix after a bankruptcy judge rejected the proposed sale of the team to the Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who would have moved it to Hamilton, Ontario. Judge Redfield Baum issued a 21-page ruling on Monday, concluding that the June 29 deadline imposed by Balsillie did not allow enough time to resolve the many issues raised in the complex case.

"Simply put, the court does not think there is sufficient time [14 days] for all of these issues to be fairly presented to the court given that deadline," the judge wrote. The ruling is a victory for the NHL, which had argued that Balsillie was using the US Bankruptcy Court to attempt to circumvent the league's rules over who owns teams and where they are located. "We're pleased the court recognised the validity of league rules and our ability to apply them in a reasonable fashion," the NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "We will turn our attention now toward helping to facilitate an orderly sales process that will produce a local buyer who is committed to making the Coyotes' franchise viable and successful in the Phoenix-Glendale area. We are confident that we will be able to find such a buyer."

Hanging in the balance, meanwhile, is the fate of head coach Wayne Gretzky, who may face a pay cut if the Coyotes stay put. But Balsillie, who has failed in two other bids to buy NHL teams, refused to concede defeat, saying he wants to work with the league to move the franchise. "We look forward to hearing from the NHL soon on its view of our relocation application and an appropriate relocation fee, so as to allow the court to determine if that fee is reasonable," a Balsillie spokesman said. "We still think there is enough time for the NHL to approve Mr Balsillie's application and move the team to Hamilton by September."

The judge's decision is a victory for the city of Glendale, which had spent US$183 million (Dh672m) to build an arena for the Coyotes and contended that the franchise could not use bankruptcy to evade their lease. Owner Jerry Moyes filed for bankruptcy on May 5, proposing to sell the team to Balsillie for $212.5m, contingent on the franchise moving to Hamilton. The NHL said the commissioner Gary Bettman was to deliver a letter of intent to Moyes from Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of baseball's Chicago White Sox and the NBA's Chicago Bulls, to buy the team and keep it in Glendale. But any bid will be far less than the offer Balsillie made.

* AP