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Clock Still Ticking In Phoenix

from Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic,

The entire community might even wear party hats if we could convince the new owners to make one final gesture:

Ditch the out clause that could reignite relocation fears within the next five years, one that keeps a clock hanging over this hockey team.

“I don’t understand all the attention it is getting,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The fact of the matter is, every contract has a term. And this term, for it to be invoked, requires the ownership group to lose $50 million, which I assure you they have no intention of doing.”

Two of the new owners — George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc — also have bemoaned how the out clause has become a source of negativity spoiling an otherwise festive transaction. But they negotiated the clause. If it’s such a non-factor, why was it so important to begin with?

Truth is, the Coyotes must still be a risky proposition, or they would have attracted other big-money investors. Without a spike in business, it couldn’t be that hard to show $50 million in losses.

Besides, smart accountants can perform magic tricks, if they really want to leave.

“Nobody’s playing any games with that,” Bettman said. “When you have this type of clause, you can’t play accounting games. The fact of the matter is it would require them to lose a real $50 million, and as I said, they have no intention of doing that whatsoever.

“And frankly, they’re not incentivized to do that. The best outcome is for the community and fans, the business community, to support the franchise and have this be the huge success we all believe it can be.”

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All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/09/13 at 08:51 AM ET

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All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

Except nothing has actually happened but a columnist writing a story. It doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict there will be a clock hanging over the Coyotes with a 5 year countdown. But as the story says, what makes you think Bettman will let them move to Thunderbay or wherever these guys come from?  The NHL wants a team in Phoenix and has proven they will go to great lengths to maintain it.That is a better guarantee than some contract written with the City of Glendale.

Posted by timbits on 08/09/13 at 10:53 AM ET

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Except nothing has actually happened but a columnist writing a story.

Which is exactly how it always starts.

What, you think the new owners would start running around talking about where they were going to move in public?  Come on.

t doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict there will be a clock hanging over the Coyotes with a 5 year countdown.

Some other dude said “I’m just glad it’s over so hockey can move forward in Phoenix.”

Obviously you and I know better, which was the origination of my comment.  I’m somewhat surprised the harping on the out clause began now, I figured it’d wait a year, six months minimum… but hey, it was going to happen eventually.

But as the story says, what makes you think Bettman will let them move to Thunderbay or wherever these guys come from?

I doubt Bettman will be Commish in 5 years.  He’s 61, Daly’s 49.  Brutus will act before that happens.

The NHL wants a team in Phoenix and has proven they will go to great lengths to maintain it.That is a better guarantee than some contract written with the City of Glendale.

Then why did they allow the inclusion out the out clause in the first place, exactly?  What purpose does that codicil serve, if the NHL plans on ignoring it in 5 years?  All it provides is a gigantic legal cudgel for the new owners to use.  The league had to go to court to keep the Yotes in Glendale, with an out clause in the new deal that’s not even an option.  I mean, come on, if the ‘Yotes proceed as they have been and lose ~20 million bucks a year there’s literally no way that ownership group will stick around.  If it’s even close to 50 (and I think it’ll be rather significantly over) they’re going to be pulling the ripcords frantically.

Furthermore, the NHL is likely to have to do the whole Phoenix thing with the Devils, and considering it took the NHL 4 years to offload the ‘Yotes (after absorbing high 8 digits in operating losses) I’m not exactly certain the league will want to roll right back into semi-ownership and operation of not one but TWO NHL teams, maybe even at the same time.

At a certain point the other 28 are going to get sort of sick of thrice yearly capital calls to cover aggregate ops losses in the 30 mil range for two clubs.  And by the way, watch out for Minnesota or Florida or Columbus or some other off the radar team to have their financial wheels start to come off in the next 3-9 years, too.

Once these owners start to get a feel for how the process of dumping a team that costs them 10-20 mil a year to operate works, the line will form to the right.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/09/13 at 01:02 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/09/13 at 01:02 PM ET

If all had proceeded as you have foreseen, the Coyotes would be in Canada by now.  I guess you have 5 more years to be “right”. Enjoy it.

Posted by awould on 08/09/13 at 03:12 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/09/13 at 01:02 PM ET

Looks like your insight into the Devils situation turned out just as you foresaw - a long protracted problem that would end up in the NHL’s lap just as the Coyotes’ 5 year out-clause-panic-button was pushed. Or not.

http://kuklaskorner.com/hockey/comments/devils-sale-appears-to-be-moving-quickly

Posted by awould on 08/09/13 at 10:18 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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