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Winnipeg pops up again in Coyotes discussion

NHL would consider moving team to Winnipeg but not Hamilton: affidavit

WINNIPEG — It should be no great revelation when Winnipeg is mentioned in a discussion of the NHL's future.

The city was mentioned again in court documents filed Friday night in Phoenix in the case of the bankruptcy proceedings for the Coyotes and the NHL's challenge to that move.

The Globe and Mail, in an item published on its website earlier today, quoted an affidavit from a lawyer working for Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes which attributed several comments to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Earl Scudder, Moyes' lawyer, said he had a conversation with Bettman in early April informing him of interest from a potential buyer from Canada, one who wanted to move the team to southern Ontario.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/5/2009 (3054 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WINNIPEG — It should be no great revelation when Winnipeg is mentioned in a discussion of the NHL's future.

The city was mentioned again in court documents filed Friday night in Phoenix in the case of the bankruptcy proceedings for the Coyotes and the NHL's challenge to that move.

The Globe and Mail, in an item published on its website earlier today, quoted an affidavit from a lawyer working for Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes which attributed several comments to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Earl Scudder, Moyes' lawyer, said he had a conversation with Bettman in early April informing him of interest from a potential buyer from Canada, one who wanted to move the team to southern Ontario.

Scudder alleges Bettman told him the league wouldn't approve the Coyotes' move to Hamilton because of the age (nearing 30) of Copps Coliseum and that, "if the team did return to Canada, it would be to Winnipeg."

Scudder also alleged Bettman said a new team in southern Ontario would have to be an expansion club, the Globe and Mail reported.

The complicated case moves into the courtroom next week.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Free Press today that if Bettman made such a comment, it's not shocking.

"I don't think I would have been a party to that conversation specifically," Daly said in an email. "But there were conversations over time about what might happen if there were absolutely no other options in Phoenix.

"And, certainly, we have consistently maintained that we would be open to exploring the possibility of bringing NHL hockey back to Winnipeg."

Scudder's comments in the court filing also didn't surprise True North Sports and Entertainment chairman Mark Chipman.

"We don't know if he (Bettman) said it but if he did, it's not inconsistent with what he's said in the past and certainly that he's not opposed to going back to Canada," Chipman said today.

Chipman, whose company controls the NHL-suitable MTS Centre, said most of the news from the court case underscores the value of the southern Ontario market for the NHL and that the league wants to protect all its future interests there.

But Scudder's comment does not mean there is any plan to bring the Coyotes back to Winnipeg, Chipman said.

"I'd rather not comment any further on this because it opens a can of worms that leads to nowhere right now," Chipman said.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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