Thursday, September 10, 2009

Something to howl about in Phoenix?

Doesn't sound too good for the Phoenix Coyotes:
Finally, auction day has come for the Phoenix Coyotes. It's two days, actually.

The NHL franchise is to be sold at auction in a two-day hearing that begins Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in downtown Phoenix.

Only two bids have been made. One by Canadian billionaire James Balsillie is contingent on moving the team to Hamilton, Ontario, over the overwhelming opposition by the NHL.

The other is by the NHL, which says it will resell the team outside of the bankruptcy process, either to an owner who would keep the team in Glendale or, failing that, to someone who would relocate the franchise.

I have long believed that contraction might be a good thing for the NHL, and this case clearly demonstrates that eliminating one or even two cash-strapped franchises (to maintain a balance) might save the NHL the embarrassment of dealing with Balsillie.

I realize that the travel costs are prohibitive, but it's too bad the NHL can't expand into Scandanavia or Russia. I would hate to see the Coyotes go under, but the NHL apparently wants nothing to do with a corrupt figure like Balsillie, and it might want to find a way to stay economically viable by making some hard choices. Canada, especially, has shown that it cannot hang on to franchises, having lost several already to big cities in the US. What makes Balsillie think he can make an NHL team work in Hamilton?

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