We knew that May would be the big do-or-die month for efforts to keep the Phoenix Coyotes from becoming the Winnipeg Jets or, it now seems, the Manitoba Moose. The battle lines are drawn, with entertainment-starved Winnipeg residents crying for a team while the players are publicly expressing their desire to stay in Phoenix. The Coyotes fans that filled the building to 71.4 percent capacity obviously want to keep their team in the 12th largest TV market in the country (including Canada). The NHL, fresh off a new TV deal with NBC, obviously agrees with the fans that keeping the team in Arizona is the best thing for the league.
The best, most reliable source of information for the past several years when it comes to the Phoenix Coyotes ownership situation and its dealings with the NHL has been the Phoenix Business Journal. The PBJ is now reporting that the NHL would like to have an answer by May 6 on the feasibility of selling the team to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer.
The NHL reportedly won't make any kind of official announcement until late May or early June once the Stanley Cup Playoffs are over, but for their own purposes they want some kind of resolution in the next week to ten days.
There have been multiple reports that the NHL is working to find alternate financing for the current deal. The city of Glendale bond sale that was originally going to facilitate the transaction is now apparently dead thanks mostly to the interference from the Goldwater Institute. We are sure they, along with their Canadian supporters, are thrilled. There is no word yet on any cupcake or foot-nibbling celebrations.
Either a new source of funding will have to be arranged or the deal terms significantly changed. A change in terms, however, requires new approval from the Glendale City Council.
The NHL may be willing to wait through that process if there's an agreement in place that looks like it has a chance of getting done. Otherwise, they will continue negotiations with True North Entertainment to sell the team back to Canada where they may be renamed the Manitoba Moose instead of the Winnipeg Jets according to the report.
It remains to be seen if the May 6 unofficial deadline will be real, but clearly the NHL can't let this drag on much past early June. Plans need to be made for next season and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov needs to know if he's going to have to play in Russian which he finds preferable to being signed to play in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.