The bankruptcy judge in Phoenix ruled late on Monday night that the June 29, 2009 deadline set by Jim Balsillie for the transfer of ownership of the Phoenix Coyotes to him did not allow enough time for the court to handle all of the complex issues that needed to be settled in the case, so the judge rejected the proposed sale of the franchise from current owner Jerry Moyes to Balsillie.
It is late, I've been sick, and I don't see much else out there on this yet, so it's hard for me to provide much analysis on the basis of an Associated Press article. But the one thing that I found interesting was this: the judge didn't care about the argument from the NHL (supported by all of the other major professional leagues) that its own internal rules were paramount above all else, and that allowing this sale to Balsillie would set the stage for mass franchise relocations across the country. The AP quotes the judge as saying that "Financially challenged sports teams have the same rights and obligations as any business" when it comes to bankruptcy.
From reading that statement (and the entire article), I get the feeling that the only thing that kept the Coyotes from relocating to Hamilton was timing in that the judge did not feel he had enough time to get all of the matters settled -- primarily the problems with the 30-year arena lease -- in the time desired by Balsillie.
It should get fun as the onus is now on Gary Bettman and the league to put up or shut up. I'm going to have to see some more in-depth stuff tomorrow, but the team is still in bankruptcy, and that means the judge is still in control of everything, and there is a plan from the NHL that if an auction that would keep the team in Phoenix does not come in at a price that would set the creditors whole, then the NHL will hold a second auction that would allow relocation. So I don't see that judge letting Gary Bettman get by with a sweetheart deal to one of his buddies.
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