Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes is making a last-ditch attempt to negotiate a settlement with the NHL over the future of the club.
Lawyers for Moyes asked the NHL this week to agree to mediation to resolve the ownership of the club. The league turned down the request on Wednesday and Moyes has now asked Arizona bankruptcy court judge Redfield T. Baum to order mediation.
"Considering the amount of fees associated with continued disputes in this court regarding the sale process and what could be a protracted appellate process … [Moyes]believes that a good-faith effort to arrive at a mediated resolution of the key sale issues would be in all parties' interests," Moyes's lawyers said in a court filing yesterday.
The legal move comes less than a week after Moyes lashed out at the NHL, telling reporters he felt "betrayed" by the league. "I just don't think I've been treated right," he said. "We spent two years trying to sell this team, trying to make it work in [the Phoenix suburb of]Glendale and it just will not work in Glendale."
The request for mediation also comes as the NHL appears to be gaining the upper hand in the sweepstakes to buy the club. The league has offered roughly $140-million (all currency U.S.) to buy the Coyotes and it has the support of the Glendale city council and several other Coyotes' creditors. The NHL has indicated that it hopes to resell the club to a local buyer.
Moyes, who says he has sunk more than $100-million into the club, backs a rival $242.5-million bid from Canadian Jim Balsillie. That offer would pay Moyes far more than the NHL's bid. But Balsillie's offer is contingent on moving the club to Hamilton, something the NHL has vowed to fight in court. The threat of litigation if Balsillie wins has led many creditors to back the NHL because they believe the league's offer has a better chance of closing.
Baum still has to rule on which bid to approve. He could reject both and put the Coyotes into liquidation or, more likely, hand the club over to the NHL to continue to run.
In the court filing, Moyes acknowledged that he and the NHL "continue to disagree on certain issues central to the proposed sale" but he argued both sides should work with a mediator to find a solution.