The Jets will fly again? Well, maybe. But when Nick Kypreos broke the news on Toronto radio station, The Fan590, on Wednesday afternoon, the city of Winnipeg certainly seemed to have a sense of self–righteous satisfaction wafting through the air. And who could blame them?
Though Bill Daly circulated and email shortly after the former NHL player turned broadcaster broke the story denying any truth what-so-ever to the rumors, it’s hard to look at the current state of the transaction between Hulsizer, the City of Glendale and the NHL, who currently owns the team, and feel optimistic that a deal will get done anytime soon.
Now, this isn’t to say that it won’t. Crazier things have happened, but it’s not looking to good for hockey in Arizona.
Now, why does the NHL seem so reluctant to allow the Coyotes to move back to Winnipeg? My guess, is that this has more to do with the Atlanta Thrashers than anything.
From the beginning, the Coyotes have been mismanaged. The organization has continued to loose fists full of money season after season, and has not once finished a season in the black. Not good.
But Glendale is a sports town, and the Coyotes are a good team. Really, there is no reason why the Coyotes can’t be successful financially, even if only marginally. And it’s not like Americans don’t like their hockey either. More and more we are seeing young, phenomenal talent coming from the sunshine states who are making it into the first round of the NHL entry draft. So hockey IS selling in the states. It is definitely possible for the Coyotes to be successful if they find the right owners and the proper marketing strategy.
But back to my point.
The NHL is not completely adversed to relocating a team to Winnipeg. In fact, the other financially troubled franchise, Atlanta Thrashers, will be purchased along with its other Philips Arena and the Atlanta Hawks, by a mysterious man, known only has “The Balkan”.
Rumor has it that “The Balkan” has no interest in holding on to the hockey team, and has a tentative agreement to sell the team to True North once dust finally settles in the desert.
This will mark the second time that hockey has failed in Atlanta, and presumably the NHL has put this franchise on the back burner knowing that it will simply rubber stamp the transaction and relocation of the franchise to Winnipeg.
However, if the deal falls through in the desert, and the Coyotes return to their original home, what will happen to the Thrashers? Presumably the NHL has no desire to float another struggling NHL team, and with no where else for a team to play in the fall, the league could be SOL. That is why it is imperative for the NHL that the sale of the team to Hulsizer happens quickly.
As much as it pains me to say, the Coyotes need to stay put. For the good of hockey and the NHL, hockey needs to stay in the desert. Winnipeg will still get a team sooner rather than later, but that team being the former Winnipeg Jets, as poetic and sweet for Jets fans as it would be, would not be in the best interest of hockey.
The better hockey does in the States, the more likely the NHL will consider expansion to Quebec, Winnipeg and other smaller markets. As for right now however, there are still too many uncertainties and risks circulating around the NHL to risk putting a team in a market that has already failed once before.