Friday, January 16, 2009

Playing Favourites?

1) We have no firm proof, nor anyone who right now is willing to go the record to say so, but there are definitely league-wide rumblings that the NHL is pulling for (perhaps getting the benefit of the doubt in calls?) the Phoenix Coyotes to succeed and make the post season. Why you ask? Well, in essence the team is being run defacto by the NHL in New York! Word is that Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes is in dire financial straights, with his outside business interests. Most notably Swift Transportation, a large trucking firm, having been hammered by high gasoline costs, followed by the dramatic downturn in the economy. The Coyotes aren't in much better shape and are expected to lose another $30 million or more this season, on top of the more than $60 million they are reported to have lost the past two years.

2) Reports, although denied by the league, is that the NHL actually had to help the Coyotes make payroll recently. As one source told us, the NHL is providing what might be described as "bridge" funding of the team's operational costs to "maintain the integrity of the franchise". The source went on to say, There simply aren't any subtle ways to deal with this situation anymore". The league needs to keep the team afloat until new ownership/investors can be located/lured. The league also is trying to help broker changes to the existing lease with the city of Glendale in the hopes of making the situation more attractive to potential new investors or owners.

3) The problem is that despite having one of the better young teams in the NHL, not saddled with any long term expensive contracts, having decent attendance, and being one of the biggest benefactors of the NHL's revenue-sharing program as well, (last season received $15 million) the team is still hemorrhaging money. So outside of buying the team for next to nothing and moving it, (Balsille) we can't foresee an easy solution. Unlike the Pittsburgh or Ottawa situations, which took place when the local economies were doing relatively well, the economic climate is in the crapper nationwide and capital and credit hard to locate.

4) Which leads us to our original question. Is the NHL pulling for the 'Yotes to win? After all, a healthy playoff run (even 3-4 home games) could be the difference between losing oodles of money leading to potentially folding, and being able to attract local investors to buy a Cup contending team. Might Mr. Bettman place a few calls to make sure Phoenix is given every benefit of the doubt? We again have no one who would go on the record to say so, but the 'Yotes, despite having a very young inexperienced team are BOTH in the top 10 of power play opportunities AND in Bottom 10 overall in times shorthanded. Right now they are among several teams fighting for one of the last 2 slots out West and it could come down to an extra PP or two. The question remains; Is the Fix in?

1 comment:

Jibblescribbits said...

I don't think the fix is in. It would be no surprise that the NHL would be rooting for a southern team who has struggled, but not due to fan support, to make the playoffs, shore up much needed money and create interest in a market the NHL desperately wants to stay in.

I don't think they are fixing the team to do so though.

The Phoenix situation is a weird one because Phoenix does have the fan support, but they hve just saddled themselves with such poor business decisions. It's completely different than the Thrashers, Islanders or SE teams that most people like to harp on.

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