SIDELINES: NHL uses Seattle as bargaining chip in Phoenix Coyotes saga

The National Hockey League (NHL) has given the city of Glendale, where the Phoenix Coyotes currently play, until Tuesday to ratify a new arena lease, or the team might be moving to Seattle.  - Courtesy photo
The National Hockey League (NHL) has given the city of Glendale, where the Phoenix Coyotes currently play, until Tuesday to ratify a new arena lease, or the team might be moving to Seattle.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Something that isn't getting a lot of attention is the fact that Seattle might be getting a National Hockey League (NHL) team.

No joke. A professional hockey team could be playing in KeyArena next fall, according to quotes from the league's deputy commissioner Thursday.

Why is this getting more press? Is it because nobody around here really cares about hockey, or is it because we are still stinging from losing out on the NBA's Sacramento Kings?

Not likely. It's getting more attention because Seattle is being used as another bargaining chip by another professional sports league for the second time in a few months.

Losing out on the Sacramento Kings franchise was tough for me to take because I had grown up a fan of the team. I lived and died with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp and their deep runs in the playoffs during the 1990s.

I would have loved for my kids to have a professional basketball team to root for, like I did.

I really have no clue about professional hockey. I have never been to a game and never really had the urge to go watch. But, as a sports fan, it would be very awesome to have another professional team in Seattle to go along with the Seahawks and Mariners.

But the saga of the Phoenix Coyotes is a strange one. It seems that Seattle and KeyArena are being used as a pawn by the NHL to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. The league has given the city of Glendale, where the Coyotes currently play, until Tuesday to ratify a new arena lease, or the team is moving (supposedly).

The league's commissioner, Gary Bettman, has said recently that a deal needs to get done or the team could move to Seattle.

It's something that sounds eerily similar to what Seattle went through earlier this year with the NBA. Our great city, which includes super-rich people from Microsoft and Boeing, along with a top-15 television market, is being used as a bargaining chip by the NHL.

It's all gamesmanship by the NHL to get the best deal from Arizona. The league is now fairly certain Glendale will reach an agreement by Tuesday with prospective new Coyotes' owners on a 10-year lease at the city-owned Arena. It could then be ratified Tuesday by the Glendale City Council, leaving Seattle swaying in the wind yet again.

It seems pretty clear that Glendale wants the Coyotes to stay. The city is currently attempting to work out a deal. But things aren't working out as planned.

According to Glendale, they have some "unresolved, serious concerns" with the current situation. They say the new owners of the Coyotes want way too much money from the cash-strapped city.

The team's owners, who happen to be the NHL, want $15 million annually from Glendale, which budgeted only $6 million. The league bought the Coyotes when the team went bankrupt four years ago. Glendale gave the Coyotes $25 million over their first four years under NHL ownership - while cutting parks, police and fire services.

It might be a one-in-a-million shot, but there is theoretically a shot at watching the NHL in KeyArena in the fall.

“The fact of the matter is we haven’t ironed out or put into effect a Plan B. We have lots of options,” Bettman said. “I find it difficult to conceive of why, if the council turns this down, we would want to keep the team in Glendale any longer. We would then, if they turn it down, have to deal with possibilities and the options that will be available to us, and they are numerous. There is enough time.”

I guess we will know for sure when things become clearer on Tuesday in Glendale.


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