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NHL working on sending Coyotes to Winnipeg?

Mar 29, 2010, 2:08 PM EDT

Yotes4.jpgA story that at first seemed to be nothing but conjecture and
complete speculation has turned into something much, much more
substantial. The
Phoenix Business Journal is reporting that,
according to unnamed
sources, the NHL is working with Toronto Billionaire David Thomson to
possibly send the Phoenix Coyotes franchise back to Winnipeg.

Two
sources with knowledge of the Coyotes finances and ownership said a
deal between Thomson and the NHL has been completed in principle and
could have the Coyotes back in Winnipeg next season if necessary.
Thomson, also considered a possible buyer of the Atlanta Thrashers, is a
partner in True North and chairman of Thomson Reuters. True North owns
the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League and MTS Centre in
Winnipeg, which seats 15,100.

The report states that
the NHL is still actively pushing to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix. Ice
Edge Holdings is having issues in financing a deal to purchase the
franchise, and the NHL is also working with Jerry Reinsdorf to purchase
the team if the Ice Edge deal falls through. The NHL has a self-imposed
date of June 2010 to reach a deal to keep the team in Phoenix.

This
is the NHL finding a backup plan to sell the team, if the first two
options fall through. Although the league desperately wants to keep the
team in Phoenix, if the finances of a deal can’t be worked out they’ll
have to sell the team to the next best option. Jim Balsillie lost the
chance to purchase the team when the NHL refused to approve a sale, and
moving the team back to Winnipeg in a deal that would solve a number of
the financial issues the franchise is facing makes sense.

It’s
unfortunate it’s come to this; the Phoenix Coyotes have qualified for
the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and hockey fans in Arizona
once again have a decent team to cheer for. Jobing.com Arena is sold out
each night now, and the fans are now starting to show up again. Just
when hockey gets its claws dug in out in the desert, it seems there’s a
good chance the team will take off and back north.

The Coyotes
lost an incredible amount of money since the franchise moved to Phoenix,
but that is attributed more to more management and an incredibly
debilitating lease with the city of Glendale than anything to do with
hockey in the south.

This is still
just a simple report, coming from unnamed sources that are ‘close to the
situation’. There’s nothing that says this is a done deal, and even if
it was it still seems to be the third option for the NHL.

  1. Jason K - Mar 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    How would the Coyotes be more viable in Winnipeg than Phoenix? If management can build a consistently competitive team they wont have a problem putting butts in seats, and Phoenix seems like they would have more corporate sponsors available than Winnipeg (which is what I understand was the problem that led to the Jets moving in the first place) It’s unfortunate that fans in Winnipeg and Phoenix have to be caught up in all this, as a Hurricanes diehard I know what it’s like to hear that my team is a redheaded stepchild and needs to move back North, fortunately management in Raleigh has done a much better job building a fan base than any of the other teams in the South (save for the Ovechkins)

  2. Domi - Mar 29, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    14 years ago a great injustice was done to the Sport of hockey and the proud people of Winnipeg. Gary Bettman wanted to expand the NHL into the fast growing southern US market. He did so at the expense of the hockey fans of Winnipeg. He moved their team (and heart of the city); the Winnipeg Jets, into a market which was indifferent to hockey at best; Phoenix Arizona.
    Gary Bettman’s gamble was incredibly short sited. Not only have 5 different owner groups lost well over $300 million dollars during 14 years of losses, but the people of Winnipeg lost a piece of their heritage. Moving this team back to Winnipeg is the least the NHL could do to show they do care about the heritage of hockey, and not just market trends.
    I feel for the few fans that Phoenix has developed over the 14 years. This should not be viewed as a US vs Canada thing. This should be viewed as the NHL doing what’s right and correcting a mistake from the past, by bringing the Winnipeg Jets back to Winnipeg. This would be a happy ending to a sad chapter in the NHL.

  3. steve - Mar 29, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Moving teams to Canada (Canadian fans often cry their teams are moved south – but hey, they only had 2 teams of the ‘original 6′), may or may not make the teams financially stable (lets face it, Toronto is the only team with a license to print money) and certainly please fans in those cities (I’d love to see the Jets return). But, this will do nothing to grow the game in the U.S., which is the long term goal of the NHL.
    Dallas had been a model franchise, growing the game in their area at an incredible rate. Other sun belt franchises should take note, but the bottom line is putting a fairly consistent winning team on the ice.

  4. Mark - Mar 29, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Well said Domi. The Coyotes were originally the Winnipeg Jets as most hockey fans will know. It would be a very good move and gesture by the NHL to move the team back there. The Jets meant so much to Winnipeg. It was a devastating loss when the team left for them. The team helped the city feel connection with the rest of Canada. Winnipeg is perhaps the most hockey mad city in the world and the game is very much part of the culture.
    If this happens, I also feel for the few fans in Arizona, but they still have a lot of sports and entertainment options and I’m certain an AHL or ECHL team would be established there.

  5. Dirk - Mar 29, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    Yes, but the Phoenix Coyotes’ jersey is one of the coolest looking jerseys, great color. And what happens to the Manitoba Moose? Do they go to AZ?

  6. Ken Nambu - Mar 30, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    Yes, move the Jets back to Winnipeg, then the following year get the Whalers back in Hartford. Once we have the Nordiques back home, then the nightmare will finally be over.

  7. Steve - Mar 30, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Corporate support in Winnipeg is much improved from 1996. Plus they have a new arena, which was what the problem was, not to mentions spiralling play salaries which are not capped. Canadian dollar is almost at par now too. Check the facts before forming opinions. Hockey does NOT belong in Phoenix, especially at a mere $25 for lower bowl seats. Stick to Football.

  8. Brandon - Apr 4, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    Hockey can work in the south if the team performs well and management puts a consistent winner on the ice. The difference is a 25-30-6 team in phoenix or miami(depending on the away team) will probably draw about 12,000 with about only 8,000 in attendance. In winnipeg or hamilton that same mediocre team would probably sell out or at least draw 15,000 due to the love of the game and the die hard fans. Thats the difference. Denver has never experienced a bad team thats why hockey has worked there so well. The same cannot be said for atlanta,phoenix,florida(miami),nashville etc. I’m from the northeast and recently went to a tampa bay lightning game while in florida. They were playing the capitals. They announced attendance at 11,000 (probably about 5,000 in attendance) and half the arena was in Ovechkin t shirts.

  9. John - May 22, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    The Moose would be a welcome back here in B.C., either with Victoria(who currently have ECHL), or even here at GM Place as there are lots of people who want to see the young pro-players in the Canucks farm system. Abbotsford would have made more sense, but we all know what happened there,lol. My wish for Winnipeg is for the NHL to go back soon, and the Moose find a really good home,that will be almost as good as Winnipeg is for the Ahl. A hard feat to live up to. Good job Winnipeg.

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