The court hearing next week about the Phoenix Coyotes' sale promises to be a donnybrook thanks to a joint request filed yesterday by lawyers for team owner Jerry Moyes and would-be buyer Jim Balsillie.
They asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to rule at Tuesday's hearing that the NHL has to turn over documents relating to the sale and consent to the examination of commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly by Moyes's and Balsillie's lawyers.
The NHL is expected to strenuously resist the request.
The joint request from the Moyes and Balsillie camps said they plan to ask Bettman and Daly about a relocation fee and the NHL's methods for determining the fee. They also want to grill them about the decision by the NHL's governors to reject Balsillie as an owner and their refusal to consider his application to relocate the Coyotes. Bettman and Daly will also be asked to explain their argument that it is not possible to move the Coyotes in time for the opening of the 2009-10 season in October.
Balsillie has bid $212.5-million (U.S.) for the Coyotes on the condition the team is moved to Hamilton. His bid will be considered at an auction conducted by the court on Sept. 10 along with bids from Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and a group called Ice Edge Holdings LLC. The latter two bidders plan to keep the Coyotes in suburban Glendale.
"It is critical that [Moyes and Balsillie]obtain the requested documents ... so their counsel and their expert witnesses have adequate time to analyze the documents and prepare any reports or declarations that will be utilized or relied upon at the sale hearing," the request said.
The NHL did not immediately file a response with the court, but it is not expected the league will turn over documents willingly or readily consent to the examination of Bettman and Daly. The league has a history of keeping its business and related documents private.
Daly could not be reached for comment.
Tuesday's hearing was called to set a schedule for various motions and examinations on the issues that will be raised on Sept. 10 at a hearing in conjunction with the sale. Judge Redfield T. Baum asked the lawyers for all parties to meet before Tuesday and try to agree on dates and what issues will be debated.
The joint request filed yesterday indicates those discussions, if any were in fact held, did not go well.