The NHL Board of Governors, in a move that really didn’t surprise anyone, rejected the bid from Research in Motion’s Jim Balsillie for the Phoenix Coyotes and, instead, approved the application from Jerry Reinsdorf to assume fiscal responsibility for the troubled hockey club.
The Reinsdorf group was one of just three groups to get approval from the Board, who convened a special meeting in Chicago on Wednesday to evaluate the applications of each group before the eventual sale of the Phoenix franchise. The process, said Commissioner Gary Bettman, was to comply with the NHL’s constitution and bylaws along with an order from U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield T. Baum.
The next step is for Bettman and the Board to bring this information before the bankruptcy court so that the process can continue. This does not, by any means, close off the application process for the Coyotes nor does it mean that Reinsdorf is the owner of the team. It, instead, means that Reinsdorf has the right to be the owner of the team as decided by the Board of Governors.
Obviously part of what made Reinsdorf’s deal so attractive to Bettman and Co. was the fact that he had always maintained the notion of keeping the team in Arizona. Reinsdorf’s group is willing to pay $148 million for the team, while the Balsillie deal was much higher at $212.5 million. Of course, the latter deal is contingent on moving the team.
Bettman tried to express that it wasn’t just about the money or the relocation issue, nothing that character was a big part of the decision-making process for the Board. “The criteria set forth in the (NHL) constitution and bylaws relates to financial wherewithal, character, integrity and the view whether or not the other owners would deem you a good partner,” Bettman said.
While Bettman doesn’t specifically have anything to do with how the Board of Governors voted, one must expect his opinion to be, at the least, cohesive with their mindset and vice versa. It’s no secret that Balsillie’s bid would represent more cash for the league and more revenue flow, but it’s hard to shake the idea that the final decision was somehow personal and not particularly related to the fiscal sensibilities of the league or the Phoenix Coyotes franchise.
But what’s done is done and now the next task of setting the approved applications to work on filing for official ownership can begin. Smart money, at this point and time, would have to be on Reinsdorf winning out in the end, although anything can happen.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.