Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

NHL's return to Winnipeg may have to wait

Winnipeg Jets fans Doug Creighton, right, and Peter McCullough, middle, both from Winnipeg, Manitoba, stand outside Arena prior to Game 4 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs series between the Detroit Red Wings and the Coyotes on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. The two Winnipeg fans are hoping that the Coyotes move to Winnipeg. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Ross D. Franklin/AP

It's looking like a fairly safe bet there won't be NHL hockey in Winnipeg next fall.

Meaning the wait for those hoping for a seventh franchise in Canada goes on.

The big news today is that the City of Glendale is expected to vote tonight to put another $25-million on the table in order to keep the Phoenix Coyotes another year while they continue the search for a buyer.

Story continues below advertisement

And given it's May 10, with next season's schedule set to be released in about five weeks and training camps to open four months from now, time is running out for another franchise to be relocated this off-season. (Even if the Atlanta Thrashers situation is far from settled. But more on that below.)

There are still many in the NHL community, however, who believe a team will eventually return to Winnipeg.

My sense is that, at the earliest, that could happen in 2012.

There's a lot of commentary on the Coyotes situation today, including from our own Stephen Brunt, so this post will offer a look at some of the more interesting reports out there as we wait for tonight's 10 p.m. EDT meeting in Glendale.

The Phoenix Business Journal does some math on the deal:

"Glendale's tab to help keep the team in town may end up including the potential total $50 million in loss payments, another $50 million in bonds and a $97 million arena management fee to be paid to Hulsizer to help him acquire the Coyotes."

The Arizona Republic, meanwhile, doesn't sound in its editorial like it knows Gary Bettman very well. Much of the burden's on Glendale in this fiasco because the league wants it that way:

Story continues below advertisement

"Bettman needs to look at the vast media market that is metropolitan Phoenix, compare it with the infinitely thinner pastures of places such as Winnipeg, and start answering those very hard questions about what it will take from him to keep the Coyotes here permanently."

The Winnipeg Sun talks to Glendale councillor Phil Lieberman, who is likely to vote against the deal tonight:

"I've been on the council 20 years, and I've never seen us in such a position that we are now," Lieberman said. "Why do we want to throw another $25 million in, when we lost the other $25 million even though we had been assured by everybody that it would never be used? Because if nothing happens, a year from now we will be in the same position."

The Goldwater Institute, which has been a big factor in blocking the Coyotes sale, will address city council tonight. In a piece on its website today, the organization says that, if the city puts more money in, this extra time should be used to give taxpayers an accurate financial picture of the situation:

"If approved, Glendale will have another year for those negotiations [to a new owner] So there would be no reason to cut the time down to the wire. The city should take the time to study the economics and make all the information public, and it should not cut off any avenues for voter participation. This should not be another multi-million-dollar emergency."

From Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman, a word on the Thrashers:

Story continues below advertisement

"Word is The Raine Group, which is handling the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers for Atlanta Spirit LLC, is telling prospective buyers the team can be moved because having those dates available for other events (ie. concerts) is a better financial option than hockey."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talked to Thrashers fans worried their team may be the next targeted for a move:

"Many of us fans watched as Gary Bettman saved struggling franchises in Nashville and Tampa over the past several years," season-ticket holder Tony L. Blair said. "We continue to watch the league go to extraordinary lengths to save what many feel is a lost cause, that being the Phoenix Coyotes. Yet, many Thrashers fans are distressed by what appears to be on the surface the lack of the same commitment toward the Atlanta market."

Report an error
About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.