Breaking News: No Canada! Judge Rejects Sale of Coyotes to Balsillie–UPDATED

Posted by Drew Mindell in News You Can Use on June 15, 2009 — 1 Comment

In an ruling handed down mere minutes ago, Judge Redfield T. Baum has rejected the bankruptcy sale and subsequent move of the Phoenix Coyotes to Billionaire Blackberry magnate Jim Balsillie.

In his ruling, Judge Baum said there wasn’t enough time for all of the various issues surrounding the sale to be resolved in time for the June 29 closing of the sale of the Coyotes.

More to come on this story as news breaks, but in the interim you can read about it here.

Update: According to Paul Waldie of the Globe and Mail, Judge Baum indicated in his ruling that Balsillie erred in not resolving the issue surrounding a relocation fee, and that the NHL had not yet violated anti-trust law. Because of these issues, Judge Baum was not convinced he needed to order the NHL to resolve the uncertainties in time to meet Jim Balsillie’s self-imposed deadline of June 29. Important to note that Balsillie is still permitted to purchase the team if he wishes to do so. However, they cannot be summarily moved from Phoenix without the NHL’s approval.

Read the report from Paul Waldie here.

3rd update: As comments from the interested parties becomes available, I will report them accordingly. Thus far we have heard from the spokesman for Jerry Moyes, Steve Roman, who told TSN that,

“We are disappointed in the ruling and will evaluate our options.”

Here is the statement that was issued by Bill Walker, spokesman for Jim Balsillie’s PSE Sports and Entertainment group

“Jim Balsillie’s bid to bring a seventh NHL team to Canada continues. We’re still here. The Phoenix court confirmed Mr. Balsillie was approved as an NHL owner in 2006 and remains so. We believe he has made the best offer and Hamilton remains the best location for this team.

The court did not approve either our approach or the NHL’s. Judge Baum did state he does not have time to decide all the relocation issues. But the court still controls the sale process. As a result, we look forward to hearing from the NHL soon on its view of our relocation application and an appropriate relocation fee, so as to allow the court to determine if that fee is reasonable. We still think there is enough time for the NHL to approve Mr. Balsillie’s application and move the team to Hamilton by September. The court invited mediation on these issues and Mr. Balsillie is willing to participate in such mediation if the NHL is also willing to do so.”

Here is the statement issued by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on behalf of the NHL

“We’re pleased the Court recognized the validity of League rules and our ability to apply them in a reasonable fashion. We will turn our attention now toward helping to facilitate an orderly sales process that will produce a local buyer who is committed to making the Coyotes’ franchise viable and successful in the Phoenix/Glendale area. We are confident that we will be able to find such a buyer for the Coyotes and that the claims of legitimate creditors will be addressed.”

The following is the email that was sent to all those who have signed up to support/get updates from makeitseven.ca

Jim Balsillie’s bid to bring a seventh NHL team to Canada continues. We’re still here. The Phoenix court confirmed Mr. Balsillie was approved as an NHL owner in 2006 and remains so. We believe he has made the best offer and Hamilton remains the best location for this team.

The court did not approve either our approach or the NHL’s. Judge Baum did state he does not have time to decide all the relocation issues. But the court still controls the sale process. As a result, we look forward to hearing from the NHL soon on its view of our relocation application and an appropriate relocation fee, so as to allow the court to determine if that fee is reasonable. We still think there is enough time for the NHL to approve Mr. Balsillie’s application and move the team to Hamilton by September.

Makeitseven supporters need to make their voices heard to convince the league by participating in Make It Seven day on June 19. Read more about how you can support Make It Seven Day at www.makeitseven.ca. Jim will be emailing all of us with his planned next steps, so we continue to ask you to urge people to sign up now to show their support. Tell your friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers to sign up.

Together we will Make It Seven.

Instant analysis: A monumental victory for Gary Bettman, and probably the end of the line in Jim Balsillie’s quest to get a team in Southern Ontario (despite his protestations to the contrary). As long as Gary Bettman is in charge, and as long as Jim Balsillie is the face of a bid to bring an NHL team to Hamilton, the acrimony and animosity between the two sides will be to much to overcome. The biggest question now that Judge Baum has ruled, is what will become of the Phoenix Coyotes for next season, especially if they do not find an owner who is willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

Approve of the Judge’s ruling? Think he should be booted off the bench? Sound off in the comments section.

  • BrandonMartin

    What will become of the Coyotes? They will continue to lose money and attendance will remain stagnant. Judge though had to follow the law.