Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Don't get knickers in knot over latest Coyotes rumours

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So, Victor Newman has ordered his minions to fire up the Gulfstream and chart a course for Phoenix. Seems the main villian from the Young and the Restless wants to buy himself a hockey team.

Or maybe it's Stefano DiMera coming ashore after months in his submarine to kick the tires on the Phoenix Coyotes. Beating up on the folks on Days of Our Lives isn't enough to keep him busy, so look out Ron McLean and Gary Bettman and Brian Burke. There could be a new bully in town.

News coming out of the desert the last couple of days has a mystery buyer now interested in purchasing the Yotes. In a related note, the boys from Ice Edge are out of the running but are now putting together a no-cash-for-a-new-building deal in Thunder Bay to house an ECHL franchise. Talk about your left turns.

We've heard from credible sources that there is no new buyer in Phoenix and we've heard from equally plugged-in folks that there is some fire behind this smoke.

Regardless, there is nothing in such news that should elicit much of a response from NHL loving Winnipeggers.

And there will likely be lots more news just like this. Before this deal is put to bed we might meet a sheik, a Texan, a Russian playboy or even a Philadelphia lawyer, all with sights on owning an NHL franchise.

And maybe one of them will get it done.

But Winnipeg's role in this game has already been played. Mark Chipman and his True North Sports and Entertainment group have done their thing. There's nothing more for them to do but wait and see what happens.

When NHL commissioner Bettman told the city of Glendale back in May to either find a buyer for the Coyotes to keep the team in Phoenix or else, the Free Press learned True North was Bettman's other option.

"The owners currently have a bona fide offer from a viable purchaser who would relocate the hockey team to another market for the 2010-11 season and contemplates that the owners (the NHL) would break even on their investment in the team through the end of the 2009-10 NHL season as well as the NHL potentially receiving a relocation fee," read a document between the league and Glendale city council.

Deadline

Glendale was given a deadline of Dec. 31 to find a buyer to keep the team in Jobing.com Arena.

True North has made its offer and now can do nothing but wait. Same goes for those hoping and praying to see the NHL take up permanent residence in Manitoba.

There's no bidding war between True North and the city of Glendale. There's not even a guarantee that the NHL views Dec. 31 as a hard and fast date.

It would behoove us not to get our panties in a knot, folks.

Hey, do we want the Coyotes to come back to Winnipeg? Of course. But getting all sweaty every time the rumour mill kicks out a sultan or a tire king or even the lady who owned the Chiefs in Slapshot does no good. In fact, it's likely bad for our collective blood pressure.

There's a guy in Phoenix who has been emailing me regularly since May telling me that he 'knew for sure that Ice Edge would land the Coyotes,' and that Winnipeg was just being used. Oddly, he hasn't emailed me for a few days.

Nobody knows what will happen where this deal is concerned. Maybe a billionaire will surface and actually have the money to buy the team and determine it's a solid investment and Phoenix will keep NHL hockey.

Maybe Glendale city council will decide keeping the Coyotes is paramount -- no matter how expensive for their constituents -- and give a potential buyer all the breaks they want.

Or, perhaps time will run out in Phoenix and Bettman and True North will come to an agreement and we can begin fighting over what to call our team.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 1, 2010 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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