The View From Wisconsin
Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Nothing like a little "light reading" for an overnight... I, like most other knowledgeable hockey fans, sat down and read through Judge R.T. Baum's decision of "No Sale" in the Coyotes bankruptcy case. There was a lot there, but I think there are a few things that can be taken from the decision:
- Balsillie expected way too much from the court when he tacked on the "must move to Hamilton" provision to his bid. What Rodier and his band of Weasels didn't realize when ol' Diamond Jim dug in his heels about the 'Yotes is that the court was required to provide "adequate protection of any interest in the property being sold free and clear of that interest." That's legalspeak for, "If anyone other than the buyer is interested in the property under bankruptcy protection, the court has to make sure their interests are protected." In the NHL's case, that's the right to determine who owns the team and where they play.
- The NHL may have a conflicted interest in their bid, but that's because they are in the unique and unenviable position of being an affected party and a potential debtor. However, that doesn't mean they can't bid on the team, nor does it mean they rescind their rights to determine where the team plays because they bid on the team.
- PSE's bid was rejected outright by the court simply because the NHL rejected them, and because the NHL has the right to do so. It was interesting that the court realized that the NHL has the right (under anti-trust law, as I mentioned previously) to determine who owns a team, where that team plays its home games, and how much money a team must pay to be able to play home games elsewhere. Ballsy and company are best to not even attempt to litigate against the NHL on that point, because that is the equivalent of suing Bentley because they won't let you buy a Veryon with Monopoly money. Okay maybe not; it's more like the case of an individual owner in a condo association suing the entire association over the right to own more than one dog in their unit - even though the condo rules say they can't. (Not that I have any experience with that sort of thing...)
- The only thing standing in the way of this mess ending is the NHL coming to some sort of an agreement with Moyes and Gretzky over their standing as creditors. If they bump their bid up to include the pair as creditors, and essentially "buy them off", Baum would likely hand the league the keys to the team in short order. And as soon as that is done, it's likely Jerry Reinsdorf can start negotiating with the City of Glendale to become the real owner of the Coyotes in 2010-11.
- The saddest thing about this whole fiasco is that the Coyotes as a franchise may be beyond repair in Glendale. Bettman and the NHL will do whatever it takes to try to keep the team there, but the team was put behind the 8-ball this year financially with the uncertainty accompanying the bankruptcy hearings. Nothing short of a sustained playoff run could possibly get this team out of financial straits by June of next year.