Sports Outside the Beltway

NY Senators oppose potential Phoenix Coyote move to Canada

National politics and the NHL. How often do these two mix? From AP-

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are opposed to the Phoenix Coyotes relocating to southern Ontario because it would have a potential “crippling” effect on the Buffalo Sabres.

In a letter sent to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday, the two Democrats sided with the league in its bid to prevent Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie from purchasing the bankrupt Coyotes and moving them to Hamilton, Ontario, located about 45 minutes west of Buffalo.

The Sabres, one of the NHL’s strongest U.S. small-market franchises, generate about 20 percent of their revenue from across the border.

The NHL has asked a bankruptcy judge to uphold the league’s right to determine who owns a franchise and where it plays.

Will the Coyotes play anywhere next year. A Ottawa Sun journalist has some serious doubts.

The judge asked the sides to report back on May 27, a week from today. I can predict with near certainty that nothing will come of that mediation. Moyes isn’t about to relinquish his apparent ownership and the NHL isn’t about to allow him to put the team into bankruptcy. Try finding middle ground there.

If it’s not bad enough that Moyes and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have no trust in each other, the judge did say he would discuss relocation — what he called the “hot-button issue” — on June 22, more than a month from now, which was immediately followed by the NHL lawyer indicating the league would not approve the movement of a franchise for next season at such a late date.

That date all but ensures Balsillie and Hamilton are out for next season.

It could also mean the Coyotes are out for next season.

That is the difficulty the NHL must come to grips with. You can’t move the Coyotes by late June and you can’t sell tickets in Phoenix for a franchise nobody can say for certain will be there. It is a double-edged sword, with both sides stabbing at the league.

The NHL has had to step in before to keep a team afloat. It was the Ottawa Senators around 15 years ago. NHL owners will croak first before allowing Jim Balsillie, I think the same will go for keeping the franchise known as the Coyotes alive in some form or another till a suitable owner can be found.

As for Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, I understand their interest in trying to protect the Sabres. The team is a New York based business and in no way compares to this fool congressman who has a Congressional committee investigating the College bowl system.

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