Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Coyotes chronicle to end Tuesday

Vote will determine team's destiny

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One way or another -- this will be over on Tuesday night.

The Phoenix Coyotes will either remain in Glendale at Jobing.com Arena or they will be packed up stick by stick and player by player and shipped to Winnipeg and a new home at the MTS Centre.

No more Mayor Elaine Scruggs. No more Goldwater Institute.

Finally, resolution for this community in regards to the Coyotes and their possible return to Winnipeg.

Now the Atlanta Thrashers and their future -- well that's another story. But let's get one saga out of the way before we begin a new one in earnest.

Glendale council will vote to cover Coyotes' operating losses for one more season and the team will remain where it is. Or they won't and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will switch from saviour mode to relocation mode. Bettman will move so fast he might be the guy behind the wheel of the Mayflower truck leading the caravan north to Winnipeg.

The resolution is expected to pass, as council member Phil Lieberman called the arrangement an "excellent deal."

Lieberman, however, told the Globe and Mail he doesn't think the team will sell to Matthew Hulsizer.

"We do not have a signed deal with Hulsizer -- and there is some discussion as to whether we will ever get one or not get one. I don't personally want to give him $110 million," said Lieberman. "In my mind, this (proposal) will give us a year to find somebody else who may be willing to buy it and come up with much more money. Real money -- instead of city money."

When asked where the league would turn should Glendale vote against the resolution, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly offered little.

"Not prepared to say at this point. Let's see what happens on Tuesday," said Daly.

Glendale struck an agreement with the NHL last spring to cover losses while a new owner was sought and recently forwarded the league a cheque for $25 million. Despite countless man hours and more cracks at "creative financing" than a mob-run strip joint -- the NHL and Glendale could not come to terms with a buyer willing to keep the club in Arizona.

So, here we go again. If at first we don't succeed, flush, flush millions again. Or something like that.

Glendale has to decide whether to double down and put another $25 million in play and cling to the hope they can find a new deal that will pass the scrutiny of the Goldwater Institute and that pesky constitutional gift clause.

One has to hand it to Bettman and the league. They said they would exhaust every option to keep the team in Phoenix and they found a way to buy more time.

Good for the NHL.

Maybe not so good for Mr. Lieberman and the folks of Glendale, but it's their call to make.

Once and for all. Or at least for one more year.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 7, 2011 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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