SBD/March 10, 2011/Franchises

Coyotes Captain Joins Bettman In Questioning Goldwater's Motives

Doan acknowledges Coyotes' future becoming a distraction for players
Coyotes RW Shane Doan yesterday joined NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "in questioning the motives of the Goldwater Institute," according to Paul Friesen of the WINNIPEG SUN. Doan, the only member of the Coyotes left from the franchise's days in Winnipeg, told a Phoenix-area radio station that Goldwater officials are "crossing the line by meddling in city affairs." Doan: "You're not an elected official, and if you want to be in control of the city, go run in an election." He also questioned the "high profile the Arizona taxpayer watchdog group has gained by stalling the sale of the Coyotes to Matthew Hulsizer." Doan: "They've found something they can stake their name to. And now people go to their website and they see they can make a donation. And it becomes more self-serving." Doan acknowledged that the "future of the team has become a distraction." Doan: "My 12-year-old is asking, 'Are we going to Winnipeg?' It drastically affects the players." Friesen notes Goldwater "has threatened to sue the City of Glendale if it goes through with a bond sale to raise $100 million for Hulsizer's purchase," and that "has stalled the sale of the bonds, jeopardizing Hulsizer's takeover bid" (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/10). NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday said there are a "couple of possibilities" the league is pursuing in order to complete the sale to Hulsizer. Daly told a Phoenix radio station, "We're busy working on another alternative. We're not giving up on this. We need to be creative, we need to work with the City of Glendale, we need to work with Matt Hulsizer and we need to get this done any way we can." When asked about the team potentially relocating to Winnipeg, Daly "was almost dismissive." Daly: "We've had a lot of conversations with Winnipeg over time. But that doesn't make Winnipeg at all unique." He added, "There are a number of markets throughout North America that come to see us from time to time. ... There is a demand for franchises. This is not a situation where if we don’t get this done in Glendale the Coyotes won’t have another home. It’ll just be unfortunate for all the people who’ve spent a lot of time, money and passion on this team" (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/10). 

KEEPING THEIR DISTANCE: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts reports the NHLPA is "fielding calls from players concerned about the Phoenix Coyotes crisis but is not planning to get involved yet." NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, "If I thought there was something the union should be doing which could affect a better result for everybody, I’m not unwilling to undertake that. This is a process in which the union is not essentially involved." But Fehr "does not want to see the Coyotes move." He said, "It would be great if they could figure out a way to make it work on an economically viable basis" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 3/10). 

OPTIONS EXHAUSTED? YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote should Bettman "place pride aside here, he has a legitimate cover story if the Coyotes have to leave." Something "doesn't frame this as the NHL's failure." The NHL "went to court, bought the team, owned it, operated it, facilitated its sale to a party willing to keep it in Glendale, and then through the actions of a politically motivated group and the local bureaucracy (and the dreaded economy), the deal fell apart." The NHL "did everything it could" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/9). In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman writes, "Phoenix is simply not a good hockey market. They have tried and failed to save their team and now it’s time to move on. Winnipeg has deep-pocketed owners who are believed to be willing to give the NHL what it wants for the franchise." Wyman: "The pieces are in place and a deal is there to be made, if only Bettman can swallow his pride and allow it to happen" (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/10). However, in Toronto, Steve Buffery writes, "Let’s forget about relocation once and for all. Instead, let’s think about retraction. I know it will never happen, but in a perfect world, the NHL would do just that. There are too many teams" (TORONTO SUN, 3/10).

MARKET SIZE MATTERS: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin notes the NHL is "expected to announce its new U.S. TV package within the next six weeks." Dowbiggin: "Now ask yourself, for which city would NBC or Fox or ESPN add zeroes on the rights cheque? Winnipeg or Phoenix?" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/10). Phoenix is the 12th largest media market in the U.S. (THE DAILY).
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