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Phoenix Coyotes Face Relocation, Contraction as Ownership Plans Lag

July 7th, 2012 at 7:00 PM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101

The Phoenix Coyotes approach a July 9 city referendum in the Coyotes' home of Glendale with their future still very much uncertain.

The July 9 deadline is to gather enough signatures to force the city to put the sale of the Coyotes up to public vote. The sale of the NHL-owned team to Greg Jamison would utilize city finances, which compelled the opposition.


There are apparently enough signatures to force the vote, which would delay the sale of the club until at least November's election. That would in all likelihood delay the sale, as no owner would want to go through with the purchase without knowing if the city's residents will even allow the deal. Even with the club's first-ever appearance in the Western Conference Finals in 2011-12, there is much doubt that enough interest is there for voters to allow public money to go toward the sale.

If the sale were then to be voted down, there would be no alternative left in Phoenix, as Jamison is the only person who's expressed serious interest. That would then compel the team's move out of town – Quebec City and Hamilton have expressed interest, while Seattle, Kansas City and Las Vegas all have arenas that could hold an NHL team - or perhaps its contraction.

As Canada's Globe and Mail explains, the league can make more from folding a club and then starting a new one than by moving a club:

"In some NHL circles, a more drastic solution is envisioned. The Coyotes could simply be folded, its 23 players sent to other NHL teams through a dispersal draft and the league would operate with 29 teams next season. This would allow the NHL to collect expansion fees of $200 million or more each from Seattle and Quebec City, the top candidates for NHL teams, rather than a single relocation fee of $60 million or so for the Coyotes. That is a gain of at least $200 million if a total loss of $200 million is assumed on the NHL's investment in the Coyotes."

Of note to Buffalo Sabres fans, the blue and gold could be an indirect beneficiary of this civic unrest. Coyotes captain said he was waiting to see if the Phoenix ownership situation could be resolved before determining whether he would test free agency. The Sabres are known to have made contact with his agent concerning signing him, so with the issue apparently not ending any time soon Doan seems likely to hit the open market next week. The 35-year-old has spent his entire career with the Phoenix/Winnipeg franchise and had 22 goals and 28 assists in 79 games last season.



Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL

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