Jim Neveau, NHL Correspondent
In what was a dramatic departure from her unfailingly upbeat rhetoric on the subject, Glendale, Arizona mayor Elaine Scruggs told a Phoenix-area TV station that she is having some serious doubts as to whether the Phoenix Coyotes will remain in the area beyond this season.
“I don’t have a lot of confidence,” she told KPNX on Friday morning. “In many ways, the city of Glendale has no control over our future. We have some, but we don’t have final control. The decision is with the National Hockey League, the 29 other owners, who they want to be an owner of the team.”
This revelation comes in the wake of a series of setbacks for the city’s bid to keep the team, most notable among those being the withdrawal of Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer’s bid to purchase the cash-strapped franchise from the NHL. His was just the latest in a series of failed bids to keep the club in Arizona, following in the footsteps of Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the Ice Edge Holdings group, who sought to buy the team and have them play selected home games in Canada.
Scruggs’ admission of failing confidence was one of only two bombshells that she delivered on-air. She also said that she has “never supported having the team leave, however now I believe that the only realistic thing to do is to take a look –for all of us elected officials – what would life be like with no team in the arena.”
This kind of talk coming from a woman who has been instrumental in her city putting up $50 million of taxpayer money to keep the team in the area is truly stunning indeed. Obviously things have looked grim at various points in the process, including the several moments when it appeared that the team was destined to move to Winnipeg in a sale to True North Sports and Entertainment (the same group that bought the Atlanta Thrashers and moved them to the city in June), but this is the furthest Scruggs has yet gone in admitting the desperation that the city is feeling in its quest to keep the Coyotes.
When Hulsizer pulled his bid for the franchise, there were reports that there were a couple of other interested buyers who were looking at the team. This was validated by Mayor Scruggs and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, but apparently those prospective owners did not like what they saw when they kicked the tires on the investment.
It has been common for folks to be pessimistic about the future of the Coyotes ever since Jim Balisillie tried to move the club to Hamilton back in 2009, but the straits still seem more dire now than they ever have at any point during these proceedings. With a new arena waiting in Kansas City, Missouri, and several other cities waiting to vie for their chance at an NHL franchise, the situation in Phoenix will be closely monitored on all fronts. A new owner could still ride in and save the day for the beleaguered team, but the league has likely exhausted its patience with having the team be mired in a perpetual state of limbo. It’s put up or shut up time for the city of Glendale and the Coyotes, and if Scruggs’ words on Friday were any indication, Glendale may finally be ready to fold its hand and let the forces of relocation claim another franchise.
Other Coyotes News:
-Lauri Korpikoski’s arbitration hearing is set for July 20th. He can sign before then, but it seems likely that the team will have to go to arbitration to keep him. [Toronto Sun]
-The Coyotes named Sean Burke as their new Director of Player Development. [USA Today]
-Several Coyotes’ prospects were bused from Jobing.com Arena after their camp practice on Friday to take part in a firefighting drill. Interesting stuff here. [PhoenixCoyotes.com]
-The number 13 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Brandon Gormley had a bit of an adventure getting to the Coyotes’ prospect camp this week. He was all set to practice on Thursday, outside of one ever-so-crucial detail: his hockey gear wasn’t in Phoenix when he arrived. In fact, it wasn’t even in this country. It was sent to Mexico. Oh my. [Arizona Republic]
-Finally, the anticipated game between the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes at Reliant Stadium in Houston has been cancelled. [News Observer]