The sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Chicago businessman Jerry Reinsdorf appears to be dead, and this increases chances the team might be moved to Winnipeg.
ESPN is reporting that the city of Glendale has returned to the previously shunned Ice Edge Holdings group in a desperate bid to keep the team in Phoenix.
ESPN said the Glendale City Council is expected to file documents Friday morning accepting a new lease proposal from Ice Edge and agreeing to work exclusively with the group moving forward, sources said.
Ice Edge CEO Anthony LeBlanc confirmed late Thursday night he has met with city of Glendale officials a number of times this week in the hopes of reaching an agreement on a new lease proposal, ESPN said, but "no decision has been reached by either side in regards to next steps if any," LeBlanc said.
The desperation move comes less than a month after backroom politicking led to the city council rejecting Ice Edge's proposal in favor of Reinsdorf's, owner of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox, ESPN said. His group's proposal has now been abandoned. But the about-face by the city of Glendale does not ensure the team will remain in Phoenix.
ESPN says the city must guarantee a number of conditions with the NHL, including covering operating losses incurred next season, before the league will consider agreeing to sell the team to Ice Edge. One source said the league wants conditions met by the end of this week, although NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com that timeline is not accurate. It's believed Ice Edge was waiting for those conditions to be met before signing the agreement with the city.
If Glendale does not agree to the league's conditions, it is possible the NHL will instead move quickly to make a deal with True North and move the team to Winnipeg. Canadian billionaire David Thomson is one of its partners.
Sources tell ESPN.com there is a purchase agreement ready if the Glendale situation disintegrates.
ESPN said that when the city refused to accept the first lease proposal from Ice Edge, it was assumed the bid to buy the team was dead. However, about a week ago, city officials reached out to Ice Edge and told them the Reinsdorf deal was not going to move forward.