SBD/Issue 241/Franchises

Canucks' Aquilini Family Offered To Buy Coyotes Before Chapter 11

Aquilini Family Was Interested In
Buying Coyotes Last Year
Canucks Owner Francesco Aquilini's mother Elisa "offered to buy the Coyotes a couple of months before the club filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors so that her husband, Luigi, could own an NHL team," according to court documents cited by Paul Waldie of the GLOBE & MAIL. Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes' attorney Earl Scudder in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing said that the NHL "would not have approved Elisa owning a stake in two clubs, so the couple discussed putting the Coyotes ownership into the hands of another family member," but "in the end, no offer was made." Francesco Aquilini confirmed his parents' interest but said it "didn't work out." He added, "There was some concern (about) a husband and wife owning two different teams." Scudder in the filing noted that the Aquilinis were "among more than a dozen potential buyers of the Coyotes." Others included film producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who "backed out at the $200[M] asking price for the Coyotes," and Calgary businessman Max Chambers, "who Scudder said was more interested in buying an NFL team." NBA Kings Owner the Maloof family also expressed interest in the Coyotes, and EPL club Liverpool co-Owner and outgoing Canadiens Owner George Gillett "offered to help find a Canadian buyer" for the team. But Waldie notes "despite all the approaches, only three bids have emerged" for the Coyotes -- the NHL, Ice Edge Holdings LLC and RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie. The details of the offers "were included in a stack of documents filed this week in preparation of a hearing today on whether Balsillie can remain a bidder," and the filings also included details about a proposal by Balsillie's lawyer Richard Rodier to "compensate Glendale ... for losing the club." Former Coyotes CEO Jeff Shumway in one filing said that Rodier "suggested paying off the city or moving" the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs "to Glendale." The Bulldogs "play in Copps Coliseum, where Balsillie hopes to locate the Coyotes" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/2).

FIGHTING ON: In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes the NHL "threw a few more punches yesterday in arguing it's too late for the Coyotes to move to Hamilton this season," and the league "took umbrage with the notion it wasn't doing as Balsillie had asked in making a second schedule with Hamilton as the home for the club." The NHL in a brief filed last night said, "There is something sad ... about Mr. Balsillie's inability to grasp the plain fact that it is his conduct, insensitivity, perceived lack of trustworthiness and unwillingness to accept responsibility for his own actions over several years that has caused the NHL Board of Governors to wish to not be associated with him in the business of professional hockey" (TORONTO STAR, 9/2). A TORONTO STAR editorial notes the NHL, "in submitting its own bid for the Coyotes," reserved the right to "move the franchise after one year." The destinations reportedly "preferred by the NHL" are Las Vegas and K.C. The editorial: "So the NHL ... is throwing every legal roadblock at its disposal to prevent a move of the team back to Canada. Shamefully going along with the league are the owners of the other Canadian teams." Canadian fans are the "losers as a result" (TORONTO STAR, 9/2).

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