THERE was plenty of talk on Wednesday about the possible return of the NHL to Winnipeg and the fragile ownership situations in Phoenix and Atlanta. Here are some samples:
NHL COMMISSIONER GARY BETTMAN ON THE STATUS OF THE COYOTES SALE:
"We may get to a point where we'll either conclude that we're going to close this transaction or we're going to conclude that it can't be closed and we'll have to figure out what to do next."
TSN HOCKEY ANALYST BOB MCKENZIE:
"Now, don't confuse "a possibility" with "a real, good chance" because the key here is to keep this in perspective. While there's "a chance" it could happen, there's also "a chance" it could never materialize. Still, one would have to say Winnipeg's chances have potentially increased if only because there may now be two possibilities -- Phoenix and Atlanta -- for NHL relocation."
"I would say this is the first time I've sensed there may be some possibility for Winnipeg. Time is tight. If the Coyotes and/or Thrashers are to play anywhere other than Phoenix and/or Atlanta next season, there needs to be some clarity in the next four to six weeks."
THE MONTREAL GAZETTE'S PAT HICKEY:
"The city of Glendale is fighting to keep the Phoenix Coyotes at great expense to the taxpayers, but it's not because the people there love hockey. The Coyotes rank 29th in attendance with an average of 11,434, but Glendale is spending more than $100 million to keep Jobing.com Arena from becoming a white elephant."
TSN HOCKEY ANALYST DARREN DREGER:
"Winnipeg will remain eager and willing to return, but if relocation is truly in the cards for the 2011-12 season, that decision will have to be made between now and the middle of April. Sources say True North, which owns the AHL's Manitoba Moose and the 15,000-seat MTS Centre, remains keenly interested, but because of commitments to both the AHL and a long-standing affiliation with the Vancouver Canucks, True North is expecting a decision on relocation before May."