- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Billionaire Jim Balsillie failed in his bid to have a bankruptcy court judge order the Phoenix Coyotes sold to him and - over the NHL’s objection - moved to Hamilton, Ontario. His downfall was his self-imposed June 29 deadline for completing the deal.

Redfield T. Baum, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix, concluded in a 21-page ruling Monday there wasn’t “sufficient time” to resolve the case by then.

The only one who didn’t see it as a defeat for Balsillie and a victory for the NHL was Balsillie himself.

“We’re still here,” Balsillie spokesman Bill Walker said, contending there was still an opportunity for the NHL and Balsillie to agree on moving the franchise to Canada.

At a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday, Balsillie’s intentions remained unchanged.

“He’s committed to Hamilton. He’s committed to Copps Coliseum,” Walker said. “He just sees this as another day at work, another day at the office.”

Balsillie is willing to negotiate with the NHL on bringing the Coyotes to Hamilton, but the league has not approached him, Balsillie attorney Richard Rodier said from Toronto. The lawyer added that the next step was to speak to Jerry Moyes, the Coyotes’ majority owner.

The NHL, however, prepared to move ahead to find a buyer who would keep the team in Arizona. Any sale would have to be through bankruptcy court, where Balsillie had been the lone bidder.

“We’re pleased the court recognized the validity of league rules and our ability to apply them in a reasonable fashion,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday. “We will turn our attention now toward helping to facilitate an orderly sales process that will produce a local buyer who is committed to making the Coyotes franchise viable and successful in the Phoenix-Glendale area. We are confident that we will be able to find such a buyer for the Coyotes and that the claims of legitimate creditors will be addressed.”

The NHL has said it would relocate the team if no suitable ownership in Arizona is found. The league says four parties have filed preliminary applications to investigate purchasing the team and keeping it in Arizona. One of them is Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of baseball’s Chicago White Sox and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

The Coyotes have lost more than $300 million since the franchise moved from Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1996 and at least $36 million each of the last three seasons.

WILD: Todd Richards returned home to coach, and the Minnesota native brought with him the promise that the Wild will play a more exciting, up-tempo style.

The Wild introduced Richards as the second coach in franchise history, completing a new power structure that began with Craig Leipold’s purchase of the team 1 1/2 years ago. General manager Chuck Fletcher was hired last month.

Richards earned Fletcher’s trust while the two worked together with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. The 42-year-old Richards was the coach there for two seasons before becoming an assistant with the San Jose Sharks last season.

From combined dispatches

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