You’re forgiven if you haven’t been following the saga of the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes. It’s hockey, it’s the offseason, and it’s Arizona. Even the people in Arizona don’t care about hockey in Arizona, which is how we got into this mess in the first place. But things are approaching a fever pitch, if you will, and it seems appropriate to provide an update on the chicanery-laden proceedings:
- The NHL is pretty hardcore about keeping the team in Arizona, perhaps more for the regional presence in the league than the human turnout for actual games. The Coyotes rank 28th out of 30 teams in home attendance, according to ESPN.
- The Coyotes lost $54 million last season, and the NHL confirmed that they are involved with the day-to-day operation of the team, assuming control of certain team assets after loaning the club an undisclosed amount of cash. And this happened about a month after commissioner Gary Bettman quipped about the team “not [being] on life support.”
- Majority owner Jerry Moyes first bought into the team in 2001. The team has not turned a profit since his arrival, and is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Protection is important, yo.
- Moyes’ attempt to sell the team to Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie–who wanted to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario–was unanimously blocked by NHL ownership. That ruling has gone to court.
- Jerry Reinsdorf, who owns both the Chicago Bulls and Chcago White Sox, made a bid for the team valued around $148 million, which has since been retracted. Reinsdorf wanted assurances that he could move the team if he couldn’t make money
- In what seems like a last-ditch effort to keep the team in Arizona, the NHL announced that it would make its own bid to buy the team. The value of that proposed bid has not been disclosed.
- Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky is totally gay.
Okay, I made that last one up. But the chaos in keeping the coolest game on earth in one of the hottest, most expensive, most passive hockey audiences in America is building to a fine crescendo. If Gary Bettman launched the team into space and announced that they’d play the 2009-2010 season on Mars, I wouldn’t be surprised. The Martian market is just begging for a pro team, but there’s no way they’d put up a subsidy for a new arena. Aliens aren’t that stupid.