SBD/Issue 192/Franchises

Gretzky Willing To Take Pay Cut To Help Coyotes Stay In Phoenix

Gretzky May Soon Earn Less
Than His Current $8M Salary
Coyotes Managing Partner and coach Wayne Gretzky said that he is "prepared to consider a cut in salary to help" the team remain in Phoenix, according to Rod Mickleburgh of the GLOBE & MAIL. Gretzky, who earns $8M a year from the team, said that "once the ownership situation is clarified, he would be willing to sit down with the owners 'and make it where everybody's comfortable and happy.'" Gretzky: "It's as simple as that." Gretzky also "expressed support for Hamilton as a future NHL city." Gretzky: "In my heart of hearts, I hope one day Hamilton will have a franchise. They could definitely support a franchise. Everyone knows that. I don't think anybody could question that. Eventually, I'm sure [RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie] is going to acquire a franchise and live out his dream of putting a team in Hamilton. We just don't know when that's going to be" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/24). Gretzky also said that he "sees a 'tremendous positive' in the possible sale" of the Coyotes to a group led by White Sox and Bulls Chair Jerry Reinsdorf. Gretzky said Reinsdorf is a "guy who's been an outstanding owner" in both MLB and the NBA. Gretzky: "Obviously he would step in and be a tremendous positive for the NHL and the city of Phoenix" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/23).

BID DETAILS: In Hamilton, Ken Peters reports Balsillie "wants to see the details of the Reinsdorf bid," and "more particularly, whether there is a lease pact with the City of Glendale and conditions attached that would permit Reinsdorf to relocate from Phoenix after a set time period." Balsillie spokesperson Bill Walker: "Is there any relocation aspect to Mr. Reinsdorf's bid? If there is, will that be made clear to the judge. And, in that sense, is it no different than a relocation bid?" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 6/24). Also in Hamilton, Steve Milton writes, "Forgive the cynicism here, but this Reinsdorf rescue has a fishy echo."  Nobody "in their right financial mind will chain themselves to an irrevocable deal to stay in Glendale for another couple of decades," so there will be "some kind of escape plan behind this bid that will let the NHL regain control of the desert from what, so far, has been Balsillie's schedule." One can "hardly blame the league for wanting to control its decisions, just as you can't blame Balsillie for trying to put those decisions into court, where the NHL, with its sometimes questionable reasoning, doesn't have the steering wheel" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 6/24).

PHOENIX RISING: Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke yesterday said that he "believes the Coyotes should remain in the desert and be given an opportunity to succeed rather than moving to Hamilton or whatever locale NHL commissioner Gary Bettman may give his blessing." Burke: "For every situation like Phoenix, you have to look at Washington and Pittsburgh. Three years ago, they were saying Pittsburgh was in bankruptcy and would have to move. They were saying Washington was a graveyard. Chicago was empty, Boston was empty and now they are completely sold out" (TORONTO SUN, 6/24).

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