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Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, standing at left, shakes hands with Jerry Moyes, majority investor of the Coyotes, during a press conference at Glendale Arena in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday, May 31, 2006. Gretzky signed a five-year contract to remain as head coach of the hockey team. (AP Photo/Khampha Bouaphanh)


The value of an NHL expansion fee is about $265-million (all currency U.S.), according to an estimate filed in an Arizona court as part of the battle over the future of the Phoenix Coyotes. The estimate came from the club's majority owner, Jerry Moyes, who put the club into Chapter 11 protection and wants to sell it to Canadian Jim Balsillie. There are no details as to how Moyes made the calculation.

The figure surfaced in a letter that the NHL's general counsel, David Zimmerman, sent to lawyers representing Balsillie and Moyes. In the letter, dated July 2, the league asked for information pertaining to Balsillie's request to move the club to Hamilton.

Zimmerman wants census data for Hamilton and financial statements for Copps Coliseum along with renovation plans for the arena.

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Balsillie has submitted a $212.5-million bid for the Coyotes but it can't be considered until the bankruptcy court holds an auction on Aug. 5 for buyers who will keep the club in Phoenix. So far only Chicago businessman Jerry Reinsdorf has made a proposal, worth up to $148-million. If that auction doesn't yield a decent bid, a relocation auction will be held on Sept. 10.

If Balsillie is allowed to move the club, he will have to pay a relocation fee to the NHL. Based on Moyes's calculation, Balsillie would pay around $52.5-million. That is far below what the NHL has suggested.

Wayne Gretzky, the Coyotes' coach and co-owner, has agreed to be questioned about the club's finances by lawyers representing the City of Glendale. The Phoenix suburb built the arena where the team plays and it is a Coyotes creditor. The city has challenged whether Gretzky is a creditor in the case.

The former hockey standout, who coaches the team and owns a small share of it, reached an agreement with the city of Glendale over the deposition and the sharing of documents. Gretzky lawyer Jonathan Ibsen said the date and location of the deposition have not been determined.

Gretzky had objected to Glendale's motion to receive his tax records. The documents that will be supplied will be only those that apply to the Coyotes, Ibsen said.

Gretzky's deposition, as well as others in the case and the documents to be shared, can be kept confidential under an agreement reached by all parties in the dispute and presented to Judge Redfield Baum on Thursday.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly are to give depositions next Wednesday and Thursday in New York.

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A second group, headed by Canadian-born businessman Daryl Jones, has expressed interest in buying the team and keeping it in Arizona.

Jones, head of Connecticut-based Research Edge LLC, told a newspaper this week that "we continue to get more interested the more work we do so far."

He also said he would want Gretzky involved in the venture.

Moyes took the team into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 5, to the surprise of the NHL, with a plan to sell the franchise to Balsillie, whose proposal was contingent on moving the team to Hamilton.

Baum rejected Balsillie's proposal, saying the complex issues in the case could not be resolved by the Canadian's self-imposed June 22 deadline.

The Coyotes, who are being funded by the league until the ownership issue is resolved, released their schedule for the coming season on Wednesday.

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The franchise has lost money ever since it moved from Winnipeg in 1996.

With reports from

The Associated Press

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