Phoenix Coyotes Potential Move to Ontario


Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 — 9:23am PST
Comments 12

The Phoenix Coyotes have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has put in a $212.5 million offer for the team, which is contingent on the team being moved to Southern Ontario.

You can see the dream. Bringing more of Canada’s sport back home. Shane Doan a captain in Canada. Wayne Gretzky coaching a team that likely won’t ever be aware that purses have strings, rather than one strung up by them, likely to be just a short drive from his hometown of Brantford, Ontario. [Kukla’s Korner]

However (before everyone gets too excited) a few more steps and processes need to play out including the acceptance of the Chapter 11 filing and purchase plan by a judge, and then there will be an auction. “…Overbidders must exceed Balsillie’s bid by at least $5 million and not have conditional franchising.” – CBC

I have a few questions about the whole deal and would love to know what people think as well. The Phoenix Coyotes were originally a relocation and renaming of the Winnipeg Jets — should Winnipeg get “first dibs” on something like this? Is there an interested buyer and/or is the city interested?

Also, I’m not sure how I feel about three hockey teams in Ontario. Sure, they have a large population and the most Tim Hortons per capita but I know my husband for one would love to see the midwest get another team or at least one of the Dakotas. Given that the Quad Cities AHL team is going to be moving out to Abbotsford, I’m also wondering if the team would have to be further North/West from that area for that idea to succeed. Many are also playing with the idea of franchise in the Pacific Northwest, which is currently a hotbed of WHL team talents.

Balsillie is truly sweetening the deal for the Coyotes though, even stating that if he’s able to move the team then he would build an arena and name it in Walter Gretzky’s honor – CTV.

If anything, Balsillie’s public statements and endeavours regarding his pursuit of franchises are an aspect of ownership that the League should be courting, the passionate, involved, dedicated owner, who seeks to continually put the best product on the ice for the fans, and does not look at the team as mere numbers and figures and profits to be maximized. That this potential franchise could soon find itself neighbour to the Leafs, with the oft-dehumanized ownership of the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, is no small irony. [Kukla’s Korner]

I get the sense (at least from Twitter) that many Canadians in general are excited about another team potentially coming back to our country and with MakeitSeven they’ve created an online petition to bring the team back to this side of the border. Ultimately, it comes down to the league and the buyer (and the courts in this case).

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12 comments

  1. TheQuack says:

    This is Balsillie’s third attempt to do this: first Pittsburgh, then Nashville, and now Phoenix. You’ve gotta at least give the guy credit for his persistence. I understand the desire to spread teams out for representation, but at the end of the day Hockey is still a business. There is a market in Southern Ontario for a second team. Not to mention the fact that Balsillie made his money with RIM in Southern Ontario.

  2. Miss604 says:

    @TheQuack Yes, Southern Ontario makes sense (and is the most likely of all situations). I left out this quote from the Kukla’s Korner piece but found it amusing re: Balsillie — “He’s been a dog sitting on a porch, chasing every car that comes by until they pass him by. Always chasing, never catching, and never knowing what he’ll do when he finally catches one.”

  3. TheQuack says:

    @Miss604: Lol! That quote is hilarious! At least it seems he has caught the imagination of Canadians with this latest attempt. 🙂

  4. Darren says:

    Balsillie really seems to have the upper hand this time around, what with the bankruptcy proceedings. He’s chased Bettman into the open, and put him in a very difficult spot. If Bettman blocks the sale and relocation, he looks like a fool and risks a lawsuit by the Coyotes creditors.

  5. Will says:

    I don’t know if Southern Ontario needs a team, though. Most in and around T-dot are Leaf’s fans. Further East and East Coast transplants are Habs fans. Hamilton often heads to Buffalo. And London and parts West tend to favour the Wings. Now if there is ever a team needing all the cash and fans it can get it is the Wings who can’t fill an arena even when they are the (2nd) best team on the ice.

    Winnipeg? Not a chance. Sorry. Great town for a junior team, though. They just don’t have the resources to support an NHL franchise in today’s league.

    And how bout that Russian bajillionaire Medvedev who has been trying to buy a team for some time and wants to relocate it to Quebec City? http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2009/05/05/sp-nhl-medvedev.html

    Now that is a city that is truly deserving an NHL team… especially after it had its heart ripped out when the Nordiques left to win the cup for Colorado.

  6. Ross says:

    @Will –

    Hamilton heads to Buffalo because they don’t have a team of their own. If they did, they’d only be heading to Buffalo when their new team played the Sabers. I completely agree about Winnipeg. And I’d love to see Quebec City get a team back.

  7. Darren says:

    @Will and @Ross – Much as they’re deserving, I don’t think Winnipeg or Quebec City are big enough markets to sustain a modern NHL team.

    @Will – I’m not sure that expressing current allegiances is a sound argument against putting a team in southern Ontario. After all, every Canadian who doesn’t live in one of the six NHL cities supports some team, right?

  8. Seemore says:

    Bettman says “We’ll only move a team when there is no other option”

    The team has filed for Bankruptcy protection, they give game tickets away in shopping malls; or you can buy one for $9.00 and get free parking and a Hot dog.

    It Doesn’t matter where they move, as long as they move. Quebec, Winnipeg, Seattle, Las Vegas or Ontario will do..anything will do. Bettman’s little dream of moving the NHL further into the states has failed miserably.

    I know one current Phoenix player who found out before the trade deadline he was moving there, all he wants is to play in a hockey town, that certainly isn’t Phoenix!!

  9. teflonjedi says:

    Hamilton, QC, and Winterpeg are all deserving of having their franchises back. Hopefully the team ends up in one of those places and that the economics allows the team to thrive.

  10. Gary Bettman says:

    The team should be moved to Barrie, Ontario, Canada.
    The team could then be renamed to “The Barrie Bettmans”.
    The only issue – – no player over 5′ 6″ is allowed to play on the team!

  11. Jeff says:

    I have to admit as an ex-Winnipegger, I have to put a vote in for the Jets to revive their old team. I mean, who has more dedicated group of fans? I also don’t buy that the arena is too small. If you can only sell 8,000 tickets to a game in the southern states, then selling out a 15,000 seat arena in Canada will definitely do one better.

    I did the math with the potential owner of the next Winnipeg franchise (Mark Chipman) and he said clearly that if they could sell out 3 years of season tickets, and get an average of $70 a ticket, they could make it work. Given that Winnipeg is one of the only stable markets in the world economy right now, I can see them affording this type of entertainment for years to come. As a business, I can actually see this happening.

    (Sorry for the long comment)

  12. Adam for Canada says:

    We need to support pro sports. It important why??? NHL has taked about exspanding Europe. To a unknown for bussiness of the NHL. Why are the exspanding to unknown market not known the North America. So why exspand to there will there is a stroong markets here in Canada. These cities sush as Winngag, Regina, and London and hmilton. We do much better with NHL franchise then Tampa and Miama, as well Phenix. I bet these market well able to brake even!!!!!!!!!! Go Canada go move the team Hamilton!!!

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