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E-mail confirms Winnipeg option Add to ...

National Hockey Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed in an internal e-mail sent last month that the league should offer the Phoenix Coyotes to Winnipeg before relocating the club anywhere else.

Bettman sent the e-mail to deputy commissioner Bill Daly on April 4, 2009, after talking about the club's future with Earl Scudder, a lawyer working for Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes. At the time, Scudder was trying to find a buyer for the Coyotes. He told Bettman on April 3 that he had recently heard from Richard Rodier, a Toronto lawyer representing Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie, who expressed interest in buying the club and relocating it to Southern Ontario.

"I told [Scudder]that at some point, if we don't have an alternative, I will have to start looking at the moving option," Bettman wrote in the e-mail which was filed in court.

When Scudder asked specfically about Southern Ontario and Hamilton, Bettman said "I responded that it's a league opportunity, the building is too old etc. and, frankly, if this team had to move it should first be offered to Winnipeg."

In the e-mail, Bettman also talked about the difficulties in finding buyers for the Coyotes.

He cited a couple of potential bidders and added "but this is looking more and more difficult since no one seems to be excited about a team losing 40mm (million)."

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