x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Judge rejects Coyotes' Hamilton switch

The NHL's Coyotes are staying in Phoenix after a bankruptcy judge rejects the proposed sale of the team to the Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie.

PHOENIX // The NHL's Coyotes are staying in Phoenix after a bankruptcy judge on Monday rejected the proposed sale of the team to the Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who would have moved it to Hamilton, Ontario. Judge Redfield T Baum issued a 21-page ruling, 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 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," 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 for the Coyotes and that the claims of legitimate creditors will be addressed."

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 and 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, Bill Walker, 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."

* AP