When discussing the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to a potential buyer last month, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would approve a move of the team to Winnipeg, but not Hamilton or suburban Toronto.When discussing the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to a potential buyer, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would approve a move of the team to Winnipeg, but not Hamilton or suburban Toronto, and that the only way southern Ontario would get a team was via expansion.
We’re not sure this was quite the endorsement Winnipeg residents were looking for — and judging by articles in the Free Press and Sun, ‘Peggers have already figured out what’s going on. For those who don’t or for those who really thinks there’s someone in Winnipeg sitting on a pot of US$200 million, waiting to bring an NHL team to MTS Centre, here’s your daily dose of reality.
Bettman is not really interested in seeing the NHL return to Winnipeg, and he never foresaw the Coyotes moving back to Winnipeg. What he was doing was sending a clear message to Earl Scudder — repping Jim Balsillie on a purchase of the Coyotes — that the alternative to staying in Phoenix was one equally unpleasant. He was sending a big, fat message that the NHL was not interested in watching a prime market like southern Ontario be lost without the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres getting some expansion juice along the way. The league was working on a sale of the Coyotes to Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a sale that could have kept the franchise in the Valley of the Sun.
So let’s all take this "revelation" for what’s it’s worth: a nasty little threat.
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