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The NHL wants to postpone an auction for the Phoenix Coyotes until Sept. 10 to give two potential bidders more time to finalize their offers. U.S. bankruptcy court Judge Redfield T. Baum was scheduled to hold an auction Aug. 5 for bidders interested in keeping the club in Phoenix. If that auction failed to produce a decent offer, a second one would be held Sept. 10 for bidders who want to move the club.

In a court filing last night, the NHL and the City of Glendale argued the second auction is no longer necessary because the league has rejected the ownership application of RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie, who wants to buy the club for $212.5-million (all currency U.S.) and move it to Hamilton. Balsillie "is not a viable purchaser of the club," the league said.

The NHL said delaying the auction will give prospective bidders Jerry Reinsdorf and Ice Edge Holdings more time to arrange lease agreements with the City of Glendale, which said it is "very close to a definitive agreement with each of the Reinsdorf group and Ice Edge that would allow the team, under new ownership, to continue to play at the arena".

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Reinsdorf is offering $148-million while Ice Edge, made up of Canadian and American investors, has proposed a $150-million offer.

"The NHL believes that, if given several more weeks, the bids will be substantially more complete and in a form that allows the court to render a considered judgment on the merits," the league said. The NHL believes that Ice Edge will formally submit its bid today.

The league said it rejected Balsillie because the NHL's executive committee had found that he "repeatedly turned his back on commitments and representations he had made to NHL owners, he had consistently acted in total disregard of established league rules, policies and procedures, and he had taken many affirmative actions both personally and through his representatives that had caused significant damage to the league and to many of its clubs."

The NHL added that, during his interview with the committee, Balsillie "suggested he intends to challenge the league's assertions regarding the facts of his dealings with the league and individual clubs".

The NHL also requested that if the court does not approve a bid at the Aug. 5 auction, an auction to relocate the club should only take place after the club has been extensively marketed. Therefore, the league said, no date should be set for that auction until after the 2009-10 season.

In its filing, the City of Glendale echoed many of the NHL's arguments and said the Aug. 5 auction should be put off for several weeks. The city also noted that Balsillie was not approved as an owner and would not be eligible to bid in the relocation auction, making it unnecessary since he was the only bidder.

The NHL said its board of governors "elected to disapprove Mr. Balsillie based in large part on his personal dealings with the league and individual clubs since his prior interview with the executive committee in 2006".

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With reports fromThe Associated Press

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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

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