The NHL, in fact, had decided to move the Coyotes back to their original location, and in May of 2010 came within “10 minutes” of announcing that the Phoenix franchise was being taken over by True North. Chipman was even sitting in the NHL’s New York offices nervously awaiting the Friday 5 p.m. deadline Bettman had set for the City of Glendale to act – only to have the deal blocked at the last moment by the city deciding to prop up the team with some $25-million in municipal funds.
According to Back In the Bigs: How Winnipeg Won, Lost and Regained Its Place in the NHL – published by the Winnipeg Free Press and written by staffer Randy Turner – True North’s CEO Jim Ludlow “was back in Winnipeg watching the clock tick down with True North lenders and planning a press conference that had been tentatively scheduled for May 18, 2010 – exactly 15 years to the day of the ‘Save the Jets’ rally at Portage and Main – to announce the purchase of the Coyotes.”
It was at this point, Chipman says, that Bettman quietly let him know that True North would be rewarded with the very first team that became available. But to Chipman’s surprise, the commissioner suggested that it might not be Phoenix. True North was advised to run a “second track” of preparedness, with the second possibility being the struggling Atlanta Thrashers.