Another Group Wants Team In Canada

For years, noted businessman Jim Balsillie has worked diligently to move one of the existing NHL franchises to Canada, and more specifically Hamilton, Ontario.

First, he started with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He then shifted focus to the Nashville Predators. And now the focus is on the Phoenix Coyotes.

But his Make It Seven campaign – which is backed by significant money power – has been shunned by the NHL, leaving Balsillie on the outside looking in for the third time.

That, however, does not mean a seventh Canadian team is out of the question.

According to Paul Waldie of the Globe and Mail, a new group of potential buyers has emerged with intentions of purchasing the Coyotes and keeping them in Phoenix, while playing five games in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan or Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The group, known as Ice Edge Holdings, plans to bid $150 million, an amount significantly less than Balsillie’s $212.5 million bid that was rejected by an Arizona judge in June.

“Canada is obviously a tremendous hockey market, yet there are currently 6,000 kilometres of Canadian soil that have no exposure to the NHL in their home market,” said Daryl Jones, an Ice Edge partner, according to the Globe and Mail. “Our plan from the outset was to work with a Canadian city that doesn’t have NHL territorial rights issues, and also one that wouldn’t be considered a threat to the fans in Phoenix.”

Any bid to move the team, either partially or entirely, would have to be approved by the NHL’s board of governor’s.

The NHL will hold an auction August 5 for all bidders looking to keep the team in Phoenix. If the bids are too low, as determined by the court, a subsequent auction will be held August 10 for bidders interested in relocating the team.

To date, Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls and White Sox, has placed the only bid. He is willing to pay $148 million to keep the team in Phoenix, but only if a new arena lease is negotiated and other stipulations are met.

Meanwhile, Balsillie’s camp remains confident its bid is the best, stating through spokesman Bill Walker that the offer “is not just miles but time zones ahead” of other competing bids and “offers the best outcome for the franchise.”