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Gretzky confirms Coyotes in trouble

 

MATTHEW SEKERES

January 16, 2009

 

VANCOUVER -- Phoenix Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky confirmed yesterday that the troubled NHL franchise requires financial assistance and is seeking an investor who could help keep the team in Arizona.

 

The Coyotes could lose as much as $45-million (all currency U.S.) this season, including interest payments, and owner Jerry Moyes is looking for a partner. He also is speaking to city officials in Glendale about the lease arrangement at the community-owned Jobing.com Arena.

 

Yesterday, when Gretzky was asked whether the owner could continue to operate the club, given its losses, he deferred queries to Moyes. But Gretzky, the club's coach and managing partner, also signalled that Moyes requires investment in the franchise and financial relief from the city of Glendale.

 

"I don't think it is any big secret that Mr. Moyes has asked for new partners or investors," Gretzky said. "Mr. Moyes is doing the best he can in working with the city and city officials. Our responsibility is to come, show up and play, and play the best we can."

 

Since The Globe and Mail began documenting the Coyotes' economic woes last month, no one from the club's management had confirmed that it was seeking financial help.

 

A TSN report on Wednesday said that as much as 80 per cent of the team is expected to be sold in the next two months, and that Moyes would retain as much as 20 per cent. Barring a sale, the club could be forced into bankruptcy proceedings. It is possible the Coyotes could be disbanded or moved out of Phoenix before next season.

The Coyotes entered a game against the Vancouver Canucks last night in seventh place, a playoff spot, in the Western Conference.

 

The team is trying to snap a seven-year postseason drought behind a youth movement that features seven players who are 22 or younger.

 

"The older players definitely don't let [the financial trouble] be a distraction, but the younger players don't understand it, maybe," said defenceman Derek Morris, the team's union representative. "We realize that things aren't good, but they are still treating us first-class here. They're allowing us to play hockey."

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Hartford wants the NHL back

Mayor meets with Bettman; `We have a great fan base left over from the Whaler days'

 

Jan 16, 2009 04:30 AM

Kevin McGran

 

Move over Winnipeg, step aside Kansas City. Hartford is the latest former NHL city that wants to get its game back.

 

The mayor of Hartford and an entourage of business leaders met this week with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

 

"The meeting was to make sure we put Hartford on his radar screen as a city that is bullish about bringing hockey back to Hartford," said Mayor Eddie Perez. "We have a great fan base left over from the Hartford Whaler days, and I have a challenge as a mayor to figure out what to do with an aging civic centre, which has outlived its purpose."

 

The Hartford Civic Center – now the XL Center – was home to the Hartford Whalers until the team skipped town under owner Peter Karmanos to become the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.

 

The arena was too small by NHL standards, and didn't have any luxury suites and a potential deal for a new, $145 million (U.S.) arena fell apart.

 

Now Hartford is in the middle of a revitalization, Perez said. There are more jobs downtown, new hotels opening and a convention centre was recently built, he said. The city wants to tear down the civic centre and build a new arena in the same location.

 

"(An NHL team) helps attract the kind of employers we want, it helps enhance our quality of life, it puts our state and city on the map on the national stage," said Perez, acknowledging the current North American-wide recession could become a barrier.

 

"Just because the economy has turned sour nationally, it doesn't mean we shouldn't stay with the plan that we have."

 

Perez didn't get a thumbs-up or thumbs-down from Bettman, but came away feeling as if Hartford had a shot if the NHL is looking to relocate or expand in the five years it would take for a new arena to be approved, financed and built.

 

"Nothing is going to happen overnight," said Perez. "I was impressed with the commissioner's historical knowledge of our market, of knowing we have some market potential here. ... He knew exactly where we were as a market, and what the potential may be and how to turn that potential into a real business proposition."

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Si une equipe demenagera a une autre ville, je pense que Kansas City recevra cette equipe, si Bettman a quelque chose a dire la-dessus. L'arena qui a ete construit, le Sprint Centre, semble etre parfait pour une equipe de hockey, et de plus ca pourrait promouvoir un rivalite avec l'autre equipe de Missouri, les Blues de St. Louis - qui peuvent utiliser un peu d'aide aussi.

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