Since my car decided to die on me last night I'm stuck at my computer instead of enjoying my wonderful California summer. So here are some thoughts based on stories I've read on ESPN.com the last two days:
Phoenix Coyotes Staying in the Desert?
I'm not sure I believe Gary Bettman's argument that hockey can succeed in the desert, but if someone is willing to try then good luck to them. Yesterday the NHL's board of governers unanimously rejected Jim Balsillie as a potential owner while also unanimously approving the group led by Jerry Reinsdorf. A third offer was rejected because it was "incomplete," but the group was reportedly invited to continue with the application process.
What does this mean for hockey in Phoenix? There are now two official offers for Judge Redfield T. Baum to consider. Baum has stated that unless the NHL can show "material changes" in Balisillie's circumstances since he was approved as an owner in 2006, Baum does not feel the league can refuse him now.
Material changes? How about the guy flodded your court with documents trying to weasel his way into the NHL and get a team to "hockey starved" Hamilton, Ontario? Would you want a weasel like that as your business partner?
The thing about professional sports teams is they there are not individual companies, even though they are operated as such. They are afforded a certain degree of autonomy, but ultimately the NHL owns the product and has a duty to protect it in the interest of the fans. That is why the pro sports leagues have the rules they do for trasfer of ownership, to protect their products for the fans.
Jiri Hudler to the KHL
If Jiri Hudler really wants to go to the KHL, so be it. I think it's a mistake for him, but it's his call. What bothers me, though, is that he accepted salary arbitration from the Red Wings before negotiating a deal with the KHL. Even if Hudler stays in Hockeytown, he has to prove to his teammates that he really did want to play with them. Hard to do when you agreed to be a Red Wing, but then tried to bolt to Russia for $10 million.
Hopefully the NHL and KHL will come to some sort of agreement on player eligibility. The two leagues cannot keep stealing players from each other.