Dust-up in the Phoenix desert

Death threats, hate mail, conspiracy theories. Welcome to hockey night in Phoenix.

by Jonathon Gatehouse

Dust-up in the desert

Norm Hall/NHLI/Getty Images

The clock is ticking for the Phoenix Coyotes. Down 1-0 to the St. Louis Blues with less than three minutes left in the first period, the team is fiddling away a two-man advantage. The wingers are having trouble controlling the puck, and the one shot Keith Yandle manages from the point misses the net by a country mile. When a fumbled pass results in a short-handed rush for the Blues, the boos rain down in Jobing.com Arena. It’s surprisingly loud given the size of the crowd—10,977 tickets sold or given away, but at least a thousand fewer actual bums in the seats. On a Tuesday night in late March, matched up against a team bound for the golf course instead of the playoffs, hockey is a tough sell in Phoenix. Hand it to the fans who do show up, though—they’re as apt at expressing their displeasure as any in the game.

The chant that rises out of the upper bowl during the second period isn’t quite as lusty, but perhaps even more telling. “Goldwater sucks! Goldwater sucks!” NHL catcalls aren’t usually directed at libertarian think tanks. Then again, nothing about the saga of the Phoenix Coyotes is business as usual.

Since the spring of 2009, when former owner Jerry Moyes put the club into bankruptcy, there have been two failed efforts to sell the struggling team, and a messy legal battle with Jim Balsillie over the BlackBerry billionaire’s attempts to move it to Hamilton. Now a deal with a Chicago businessman to keep the Coyotes in place hangs in the balance, chilled by the philosophical objections—and potential legal action—of the Goldwater Institute, a conservative watchdog group. The NHL, which has been running the team and paying its bills for two full seasons, has almost exhausted its patience. “Time is running out. We’re coming to an end,” commissioner Gary Bettman warned last month. A rink and an ownership group led by David Thomson, the richest man in Canada, await in Winnipeg. Jets fans, who saw their team move to Arizona 15 years ago, can hardly contain their glee.

At issue is an agreement between the city of Glendale, Ariz., owners of Jobing.com Arena, and Matthew Hulsizer, the prospective Coyotes buyer, which would see the municipality pay him $100 million (all figures in US$) up front for on-site parking rights—raised through a bond issue—and a further $97 million to manage the rink over the next 5½ years. In turn, Hulsizer would use those funds to purchase the money-losing club for $210 million from the NHL, guaranteeing not to move it for at least 30 years. Over the life of the deal, which runs to 2041, the city estimates it will net more than $287 million from sources like arena usage fees, game-related sales tax and parking charges. But opponents dispute those predictions, noting that the total cost of the bonds alone is likely to range between $250 million and $340 million, once interest is factored in.

Dust-up in the desert

Dave Sandford/NHLI/Getty Images

The Goldwater Institute claims the agreement violates the state constitution. Under Arizona’s “gift clause,” governments are prohibited from providing grants, subsidies, or financing to private individuals or businesses if the cost clearly outweighs the direct public benefit. The think tank’s assertions have made it difficult for the municipality to find a market for the bonds, and are hotly disputed by Glendale, which says it has five legal opinions to the contrary. “We have taken 2½ years to structure a deal that we have made sure is in accordance with all the rules,” says Julie Frisoni, the city’s spokesperson. Hundreds of jobs, and what one study suggests are $500 million worth of indirect economic benefits, will be lost if the team moves back to Manitoba, she says. “The taxpayers Goldwater claims to represent are the same taxpayers who are going to be hurt.”

Four months into the fracas in Phoenix, tempers are fraying. There has been plentiful hate mail, and even some death threats. Dark conspiracy theories about who’s really backing Goldwater abound. The players are having trouble focusing. The team’s supporters despair. And in some quarters, Canadian media are about as welcome as the plague. Who knew that hockey could arouse such passion in the desert?

The parking lot at the Goldwater Institute’s headquarters, on a quiet side street in central Phoenix, offers a pretty good snapshot of who works inside. Take the Lexus SUV, with the AZLIBERTY vanity plate, and bumper sticker that spells out the President’s name as “One Big Ass Mistake America.” And should any political confusion persist, the lobby features both a large portrait and a bronze statue of its namesake, Barry, the late Arizona senator once dubbed “Mr. Conservative.”

Clint Bolick, Goldwater’s director of litigation, fits the profile. In 1991, he co-founded the Virginia-based Institute for Justice, which bills itself as America’s “only libertarian public interest law firm.” After moving to Arizona a decade ago, he headed up a school choice group. In 2007, when Goldwater resolved to start pushing its vision via the courts, he jumped at the chance. “I decided that I hated running an organization, and that I missed suing bureaucrats,” says Bolick.

Arizona’s gift clause was one of their first weapons of choice. Enacted in 1912, it was considered a relic until four years ago, when Goldwater filed suit against the city of Phoenix over a $100-million tax rebate incentive for the builder of an upscale shopping mall. The watchdog group lost at trial, and then won on appeal. In early 2010, the state Supreme Court upheld the ruling, and put Arizona’s politicians on notice—subsidies had better result in tangible returns.

There’s nothing personal in this battle against the Coyotes, says Bolick, noting that his two kids are big fans of the team mascot, Howler; it’s just that the watchdog would rather see the team leave than have a new precedent set for the state’s taxpayers. “Basically, Glendale is doubling down on a very bad debt, gambling that a team that has never made money will become profitable with just a few tweaks.”

It’s a type of zealotry that’s proving difficult for the league, city, and Hulsizer to comprehend. When Bettman came to Phoenix in early March, he denounced the group as “obstructionist,” after his attempts to arrange a private meeting with the organization and its backers were rebuffed. Hulsizer, who recently sweetened the deal, guaranteeing the city at least $75 million in direct parking and arena revenue, has also thrown up his hands. “I have reached out to you on several occasions,” he wrote in an email to Darcy Olsen, Goldwater’s CEO, last month. “Why won’t you meet? You do know that you are preventing me from paying for losses that will otherwise be paid for by the Arizona taxpayers.” Glendale’s spokesperson, Frisoni, says it’s been almost four months since the group last agreed to sit down with the city, and says she has concluded that they have some sort of “ulterior motive.”

Speculating about Goldwater’s endgame has become a popular pastime in Phoenix. Much has been made about the presence of Randy Kendrick, wife of Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken, on its board. (Her opposition to the deal has nothing to do with her husband, Kendrick told the Phoenix Business Journal in February. “I would never use my position on the board to benefit my husband’s business.”) Another theory suggests the anti-Coyote effort, which includes a recent “robocall” urging taxpayers to register their objections, is being underwritten by Winnipeg money. Not true, says Goldwater, which searched its records and found a single $100 donation from Canada. Although the controversy has apparently been good for the non-profit’s bottom line: in an interview with a Phoenix radio station, Darcy Olsen said the money is flowing. “Often with our issues like this, when they are in the press, we see a lot of donations come in. And that’s certainly the case now.”

Everyone involved now concedes that there are only a matter of weeks left to save the franchise, and considerable pressure is being brought to bear on Goldwater and its board. Hulsizer’s wife phoned Randy Kendrick at home a couple of weeks ago. Arizona’s former attorney general buttonholed Bolick at the health club they both attend. The Arizona Republic has now run five editorials calling on the institute to desist. Sen. John McCain has been making calls on the team’s behalf too. “It is to the greater good of the state of Arizona that the Coyotes remain here,” the 2008 presidential candidate said in a TV interview at the recent game against Chicago.

The watchdog group says it won’t buckle, but all the attention is proving to be a little more than it bargained for. After Bettman called Goldwater out at his Phoenix press conference, Darcy Olsen and others at the institute received email and telephone death threats. One caller even vowed to kill himself on their lawn if the team left town. Goldwater hired armed security guards to stand outside the building for a couple of weeks. “That’s the first time anything like that has ever happened in my career,” Bolick says quietly.

In the corridor outside the Coyotes’ dressing room, Shane Doan’s son and a friend are playing ball hockey with real NHLers’ sticks. The Phoenix captain’s 12-year-old daughter lingers at the doorway, waiting for her dad to finish chatting with a reporter. In his 15th season, the 34-year-old winger is the franchise’s last on-ice link to Winnipeg, having played 74 games for the Jets as a rookie in 1995-96. That summer, he moved with the team. Now he makes no bones about his preference to play out the rest of his career under the warm winter sun.

“Winnipeg gave me my chance to play in the NHL. I fulfilled my dream. There’s obviously a lot of appreciation for that,” says Doan. “But this has become home. You’re so close to the people that support the team, not just the fans, but the security guards, the PR people, the training staff. These are my friends that are faced with losing their jobs.”

Dust-up in the desert

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Sitting in the stands watching practice a little earlier, Don Maloney, the Phoenix GM, rattles off a list of the veteran players he’s been able to sign, due, at least in part, to Arizona’s charms: Ray Whitney, Adrian Aucoin Lee Stempniak, Derek Morris. “We were able to get some good deals because this is a really good place to play for the families,” he says. Even having 13 Canadians on the roster won’t guarantee much enthusiasm for a Manitoba winter. Maloney, who won the NHL’s first-ever GM of the Year award last season for shaping a team that earned 107 points despite the off-ice turmoil, says a move to Winnipeg would make his job a lot harder. “That’s a known fact. That’s what Edmonton faces. Nobody hides that.” And like the NHL schedule makers, he’s already working on dual plans for next season. One involves resigning some of the team’s unrestricted free agents—eight contracts, including star netminder Ilya Bryzgalov’s, expire at the end of June—and adding some vets. The other calls for a youth-heavy rebuild in a new location.

Mike Nealy’s task has been to try to keep the franchise viable while its future is being hashed out. Promoted to the job of Coyotes’ chief operating officer last summer, the Minnesota native has had some success, increasing revenues by reducing discounts and giveaways. (On average the team hands out about 1,000 “comps” a game, down 40 per cent from last season.) But the team, 28th in the league in overall attendance, is still on track to lose $40 million this season. And it’s not just the uncertainty that has bled away their season-ticket base, but lasting challenges like Jobing.com’s Glendale location—on the far western edge of Phoenix, a traffic-choked hour away from the snowbird fans in the east valley. Nealy remains optimistic that hockey can work in the desert, but says it will take three to five more winning years to get the bandwagon rolling. “There are hockey fans here. But right now we see them show up and cheer for their former teams,” he says. “Part of our job is to get fans to adopt the Coyotes.”

Some don’t need to be convinced. On a concrete patio outside Gate 6, prior to a Thursday night tilt against Columbus, a couple of dozen hard-core Phoenix fans gather to smoke, drink, and lament the way Winnipeggers and the Canadian media seem to be conspiring to steal their franchise. Heather McWhorter, who blogs about the team and helped organize the Save the Coyotes Coalition, considers herself exhibit number one in the case for hockey in Arizona. Born and raised in south Georgia, she had no connection to the game—”We didn’t even know there was a team in Atlanta”—but fell deeply in love the first time she watched the ‘Yotes play live. “I couldn’t believe that no one had told me how awesome this sport is,” she says. Now McWhorter is a season ticket holder—$1,300 for upper bowl ducats to 41 home games.

Dawn Leeper, her friend and seatmate, grew up in Tucson as a fan of the local minor pro teams (three failed franchises in three years in late 1970s). It’s her first year as a season ticket holder, but Leeper has already developed a fan’s sense of ownership. “Every time I see a Manitoba licence plate, I want to yell out my car window: ‘Leave my team alone!’ ” Given the 120-km round trip from her Scottsdale home to the rink, it happens more often than you might think.

The Patio Six Posse have developed a healthy distaste for those pining for the return of the Jets. McWhorter has to ban commenters from her blog on a daily basis. The flame postings arrive in bunches, sometimes hundreds a day if she’s been quoted in a story about the team.

Canadian reporters are held in even lower esteem by both Phoenix fans and, most especially, the city of Glendale. “It has been very disconcerting in terms of the manner that the story has been presented and interviews presented,” says Frisoni. “The overwhelming majority of the Canadian press has taken a position that in the States only editorial writers would do.”

In the battle to save the Coyotes, there’s only one good guy, it seems. Gary Bettman’s patient approach wins kudos from the city, team management, Hulsizer’s camp, and even the Goldwater Institute, which credits the league for its respectful efforts to keep the dialogue going. Even the fans in Phoenix like the commish. “This might be the only place in the NHL where he could award the cup and not get booed,” says McWhorter. Proof that Arizona is a very different hockey market indeed.




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Dust-up in the Phoenix desert

  1. Being an Arizona resident and a Coyotes fan, I have to say that the opening paragraph, full of unjustified and thinly (if at all) veiled insults against the fans and team, are completely offensive. I can't believe anyone would permit publication of such posturing. Attack something legitimate – not the fans of a team that is faced with a challenge. Try reporting the facts, not sensationalism that insults honest and hard-working individuals simply to add color to an overly told story.

    • Must get a different first paragraph in AZ than the one MacLeans publishes up here – how is anything in the first paragraph an attack on Coyote fans? If anything, the author gives them kudos for showing up for a mid-week game against an unexciting opponent.

      Interesting article – essentially the City of Glendale is handing over all the funds needed to buy the team from the NHL to Hulsizer in exchange for – what, exactly? The article is a little light in describing Hulsizer's end of the bargain, although a willingness to underwrite losses is presumably a big part. If that is so, it puts Glendale in the awkward position of having to argue (a) the deal is great because they'll get a great return on their investment because the team is on the verge of wild profitability or (b) the deal is great because the team will continue to lose staggering amounts of money, but Hulsizer will be more on the hook than Glendale. Here's a question – if they're essentially going to underwrite the purchase, why doesn't Glendale simply buy the team?

      • How is Hulsizer going to be on the hook at all??! He is getting $197 million and is setting up a limited liability company. If this deal goes through the only risk involved is to the taxpayers of Glendale. That is why Hulsizer loves the deal – ZERO liability for him!

    • I agree Dave. But being that this is a Canadian site, you would have to expect that. I also love how they are saying we will lose $40M this year. What is the basis for that fact? At least other Canadian "press" have that number at $25-30M. It seems that everyone in Canada knows more about what is going on down here than those that are living through it.

  2. Being an Arizona resident and a Coyotes fan, I have to say that the opening paragraph, full of unjustified and thinly (if at all) veiled insults against the fans and team, are completely offensive. I can't believe anyone would permit publication of such posturing. Attack something legitimate – not the fans of a team that is faced with a challenge. Try reporting the facts, not sensationalism that insults honest and hard-working individuals simply to add color to an overly told story.

  3. Must get a different first paragraph in AZ than the one MacLeans publishes up here – how is anything in the first paragraph an attack on Coyote fans? If anything, the author gives them kudos for showing up for a mid-week game against an unexciting opponent.

    Interesting article – essentially the City of Glendale is handing over all the funds needed to buy the team from the NHL to Hulsizer in exchange for – what, exactly? The article is a little light in describing Hulsizer's end of the bargain, although a willingness to underwrite losses is presumably a big part. If that is so, it puts Glendale in the awkward position of having to argue (a) the deal is great because they'll get a great return on their investment because the team is on the verge of wild profitability or (b) the deal is great because the team will continue to lose staggering amounts of money, but Hulsizer will be more on the hook than Glendale. Here's a question – if they're essentially going to underwrite the purchase, why doesn't Glendale simply buy the team?

  4. WTF was wrong with the first paragraph? Give your head a shake Dave. The truth must hurt and its unfortunate that a few "loyal" fans such as yourself suffer but think about what happened to Wpg when they moved? One hell of alot more people were hurt than there are in Phx today, so quit being a baby and man up and simply accept the fact the Coyotes fan base is low and your franchise has not turned a dime in profit in the 15 years in its existence!

    The first paragraph of the article was bang on as I watched the game and heard the boos as well, so not sure why you take offence on this article-LAME!

  5. Wow. Gary Bettman is the good guy. Weird.

    Does anyone remember… Thin Ice? I think that's what they were called. The parallels to how the team left Winnipeg are uncanny. Each team has a dedicated group of volunteers trying to run them out of town.

  6. Ummm.. it's spelled JOBING.COM, with one B, not JOBBING.COM. Credibility lost if the names aren't even spelled right.

    • Have you seen Hulsizer's spelling in some of his letters? Are you saying Hulsizer has no credibility in his statements either? No way… Another coyotes fan leading biased standards… I cant believe my eyes…

  7. Ummm.. it's spelled JOBING.COM, with one B, not JOBBING.COM. Credibility lost if the names aren't even spelled right.

  8. GO JETS GO!!!!!

  9. GO JETS GO!!!!!

  10. No wonder you think no one is at the game- you can't even spell the name of the place correctly. Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong place for fans.

    As for the rest, I suppose driving an hour in traffic is unusual up North aways… here we have a large city, with lots of cars and people.. and yes-sometimes there is traffic during rush hour.. novel I suppose to some.

    Hockey stirs up all kinds of emotion in Arizona. If you doubt it- try to get yourself some ice time at one of the 7 rinks around town.. hockey is everywhere here. How many rinks do they have in your hour radius?

    • Probably around 20-30 if not more, but thanks for coming out. If hockey stirs up emotions, then tell me why are there so many empty seats, if anything it stirs up apathy.

    • As Collin replied, your 7 rink brag is terrible. Don't ever try to "out-rink" any Canadian city, town or village. You will lose horribly. Also, am I to assume you are bragging about having to drive one hour in traffic?? Congrats on all the extra people and cars – I'm sure it's far more enjoyable than the wide open space and clean air we have to deal with up here….

      Finally – hockey stirs up emotion in Arizona? Hockey is BEYOND emotion anywhere in Canada. Hockey is what football, baseball, basketball, nascar, and all college sports are to Americans COMBINED. Nothing is bigger than it in sports. Only few things are bigger than it in life overall. And it always will be.

    • For comparison's sake — we are having a federal election very soon. There will be two televised leaders' debates, one in French and one in English.

      The French one is being moved up a day because it's the same evening as the Habs starting against Boston.

      Game, set, match.

    • SEVEN WHOLE RINKS? WOW!!

      Check out the 100+ in Winnipeg, even though it's only 700,000 people. THAT should tell you something!!

      • Maybe that's because there is nothing to do in Winnipeg.

  11. No wonder you think no one is at the game- you can't even spell the name of the place correctly. Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong place for fans.

    As for the rest, I suppose driving an hour in traffic is unusual up North aways… here we have a large city, with lots of cars and people.. and yes-sometimes there is traffic during rush hour.. novel I suppose to some.

    Hockey stirs up all kinds of emotion in Arizona. If you doubt it- try to get yourself some ice time at one of the 7 rinks around town.. hockey is everywhere here. How many rinks do they have in your hour radius?

  12. Probably around 20-30 if not more, but thanks for coming out. If hockey stirs up emotions, then tell me why are there so many empty seats, if anything it stirs up apathy.

  13. 7 arenas in a metropolitan area of 4.5 million is nothing to brag about…

  14. How does 50 sound?

  15. How does 50 sound?

  16. As Collin replied, your 7 rink brag is terrible. Don't ever try to "out-rink" any Canadian city, town or village. You will lose horribly. Also, am I to assume you are bragging about having to drive one hour in traffic?? Congrats on all the extra people and cars – I'm sure it's far more enjoyable than the wide open space and clean air we have to deal with up here….

    Finally – hockey stirs up emotion in Arizona? Hockey is BEYOND emotion anywhere in Canada. Hockey is what football, baseball, basketball, nascar, and all college sports are to Americans COMBINED. Nothing is bigger than it in sports. Only few things are bigger than it in life overall. And it always will be.

  17. Winnipeg has hundreds of rinks (Indoor & outdoor). Plus many parks, backyards, lakes and rivers also have rinks of their own.

  18. For comparison's sake — we are having a federal election very soon. There will be two televised leaders' debates, one in French and one in English.

    The French one is being moved up a day because it's the same evening as the Habs starting against Boston.

    Game, set, match.

  19. I have to laugh at the Arizona resident critical of the opening paragraph. Unjustified and thinly veiled insults? Where??! Booing a team that is not performing well happens everywhere.

    And, report the facts? What facts are missing or wrong?? Overly-sensitive there??

    Now, the whole article loses a ton of credibility because the writer spells jobing.com throughout. THAT is VERY poor for such a major magazine. THAT makes the write and the magazine look VERY amateur!

  20. Sorry, spells jobing.com wrong throughout.

  21. Sorry, spells jobing.com wrong throughout.

  22. SEVEN WHOLE RINKS? WOW!!

    Check out the 100+ in Winnipeg, even though it's only 700,000 people. THAT should tell you something!!

  23. How is Hulsizer going to be on the hook at all??! He is getting $197 million and is setting up a limited liability company. If this deal goes through the only risk involved is to the taxpayers of Glendale. That is why Hulsizer loves the deal – ZERO liability for him!

  24. I agree Dave. But being that this is a Canadian site, you would have to expect that. I also love how they are saying we will lose $40M this year. What is the basis for that fact? At least other Canadian "press" have that number at $25-30M. It seems that everyone in Canada knows more about what is going on down here than those that are living through it.

  25. Winnipeg couldn't keep a team before and they're just going to be a financial drain on the NHL if they get a team again. Plus, no one will want to play in Winnipeg. How embarrassing will it be for the NHL when the team has to actually fold instead of moving next time?

    • You're a terribly misinformed fool.

    • terribly misinformed fool is right! Just go sit back in your loser city if glendale and realie that the coyotes are DONE!!

    • There was once a time when young athletes were willing to play anywhere if it meant realizing a lifelong dream to play professional sports, but you're probably right, Anonymous: no one will want to play in Winnepeg. I mean, just imagine! Playing hockey in a city that's cold in the wintertime! And if anybody thinks that the Phoenix Coyotes could become the new and resurrected Quebec Nordiques, they should think again. Young anglophone hockey players don't want to have to speak French in the heart of La Belle Province. Having a dream to play professional sports ain't what it used to be.

  26. Winnipeg couldn't keep a team before and they're just going to be a financial drain on the NHL if they get a team again. Plus, no one will want to play in Winnipeg. How embarrassing will it be for the NHL when the team has to actually fold instead of moving next time?

  27. Maybe that's because there is nothing to do in Winnipeg.

  28. You're a terribly misinformed fool.

  29. terribly misinformed fool is right! Just go sit back in your loser city if glendale and realie that the coyotes are DONE!!

  30. The coyotes just keep on losing $$$$ every year. Eventually Bettman and friends are going to get tired of carying this sorry load on their backs…and will relocate the team to Winnipeg. YOU TAXPAYERS OF ARIZONA SHOULD BE NOTHING BUT THANKFUL TO HAVE GOLDWAER WATCH OUT FOR YOU. Your city council has a (spend now worry later) philosophy. They only have their own interests in mind and not the average Joe from Glendale.

  31. The coyotes just keep on losing $$$$ every year. Eventually Bettman and friends are going to get tired of carying this sorry load on their backs…and will relocate the team to Winnipeg. YOU TAXPAYERS OF ARIZONA SHOULD BE NOTHING BUT THANKFUL TO HAVE GOLDWAER WATCH OUT FOR YOU. Your city council has a (spend now worry later) philosophy. They only have their own interests in mind and not the average Joe from Glendale.

  32. Oh yeah and to all the (Winnipeg can't handle a team) list. Our potential owner is the richest man in Canada…and only….17th richest in the World. He could buy the entire leagure if he wanted to!!! It's time to put this to rest Glendale…hockey in the desert is over…done….kaputz! Now go golfing or something…why dont ya? And give us our team back!! GO JETS GO!!

  33. Oh yeah and to all the (Winnipeg can't handle a team) list. Our potential owner is the richest man in Canada…and only….17th richest in the World. He could buy the entire leagure if he wanted to!!! It's time to put this to rest Glendale…hockey in the desert is over…done….kaputz! Now go golfing or something…why dont ya? And give us our team back!! GO JETS GO!!

  34. Macleans needs to check its facts. The Goldwater Institute never refused to meet with anyone, they just insisted from long experience that all meetings be public and minutes were to be kept.

    Oddly enough, neither Gary Bettman, nor the Town of Glendale nor Matthew Hulsizer seemed keen to accept those terms. I wonder why.

    • Actually, to be fair, Hulsizer did agree to those terms, but the NHL and Glendale balked.

  35. Macleans needs to check its facts. The Goldwater Institute never refused to meet with anyone, they just insisted from long experience that all meetings be public and minutes were to be kept.

    Oddly enough, neither Gary Bettman, nor the Town of Glendale nor Matthew Hulsizer seemed keen to accept those terms. I wonder why.

  36. Dear Canadians – Can you please migrate to Arizona in enormous numbers, and then force us to be a colony of Canada? Like other migrants, you will be allowed to enter Arizona illegally and without documents. Our dream is to totally undermine and dilute our culture. And then, we will re-emerge, like a Phoenix, as Canadians.

    For your act of generosity, you will get a somewhat above average hockey team that used to be called the Jets. Plus, you will get the oldest professional football team in North America .. besides the Argonauts. And, a former federal employee, that you select, will be assigned to rub sun tan lotion on you to assure an even tan. See alternative ways to colonize Arizona at http://www.disunderstand.com . Thank you in advance for colonizing Arizona.

    • Sounds great, Duke – Except for one thing: Arizona, USA is Dullsville….

  37. Dear Canadians – Can you please migrate to Arizona in enormous numbers, and then force us to be a colony of Canada? Like other migrants, you will be allowed to enter Arizona illegally and without documents. Our dream is to totally undermine and dilute our culture. And then, we will re-emerge, like a Phoenix, as Canadians.

    For your act of generosity, you will get a somewhat above average hockey team that used to be called the Jets. Plus, you will get the oldest professional football team in North America .. besides the Argonauts. And, a former federal employee, that you select, will be assigned to rub sun tan lotion on you to assure an even tan. See alternative ways to colonize Arizona at <a href="http://www.disunderstand.com” target=”_blank”>www.disunderstand.com . Thank you in advance for colonizing Arizona.

  38. Have you seen Hulsizer's spelling in some of his letters? Are you saying Hulsizer has no credibility in his statements either? No way… Another coyotes fan leading biased standards… I cant believe my eyes…

  39. Surly its got to be over,to try and keep the team in Phoenix would be foolish,I say move this team,the Thrashers and the Islanders to Hamilton,Winnipeg and Quebec and be satisfied of the stability that a move like that would bring.

  40. Surly its got to be over,to try and keep the team in Phoenix would be foolish,I say move this team,the Thrashers and the Islanders to Hamilton,Winnipeg and Quebec and be satisfied of the stability that a move like that would bring.

    • I say let's get hockey teams in Ottawa and Toronto. LOL.

  41. We do not need a crap team to slash our finances, move them outta here. Hockey and Phoenix do not mix – and thats a proven fact, we here have more important things to focus/spend money on.

  42. We do not need a crap team to slash our finances, move them outta here. Hockey and Phoenix do not mix – and thats a proven fact, we here have more important things to focus/spend money on.

  43. Neither Phoenix or Winnipeg are capable of maintaing a financially healthly NHL team. End of story. The costs involved are simply too high. Personally I find it sickening tax dollars are involved supporitng any professional sports team, anywhere.

  44. Neither Phoenix or Winnipeg are capable of maintaing a financially healthly NHL team. End of story. The costs involved are simply too high. Personally I find it sickening tax dollars are involved supporitng any professional sports team, anywhere.

    • Well, Judge, many, many others disagree with you, and under the current economic conditions, nobody is doubting whether an NHL team in Winnipeg could be profitable.

    • Winnepeg is the fourth or fifth largest city in Canada, Judge. If Winnepeg can't support a team, then surely Edmonton won't be able to support the OIlers for much longer, not to mention Ottawa supporting the Senators.

  45. I love the lack of objectivity and the complete absence of an effort to verify the background "facts" here. The author blandly parrots the party line from Manitoba: "… an ownership group led by David Thomson, the richest man in Canada, await in Winnipeg."

    Really? Says who? Where is the official announcement from David Thomson? Where is the letter of intent? Where is the structure of this ownership group? It's pie in the sky – as nebulous as any sleazy plan of Slippery Jim Balsillie – yet it is reported as gospel fact simply because "real hockey fans" want it to be true.

    It's a page right out of TSN's "objectivity" playbook.

  46. I love the lack of objectivity and the complete absence of an effort to verify the background "facts" here. The author blandly parrots the party line from Manitoba: "… an ownership group led by David Thomson, the richest man in Canada, await in Winnipeg."

    Really? Says who? Where is the official announcement from David Thomson? Where is the letter of intent? Where is the structure of this ownership group? It's pie in the sky – as nebulous as any sleazy plan of Slippery Jim Balsillie – yet it is reported as gospel fact simply because "real hockey fans" want it to be true.

    It's a page right out of TSN's "objectivity" playbook.

    • OMG – you might be the only person alive questioning the facts around Thomson. Well, let's see, Thomson is currently part of the ownership group of the Manitoba Moose. It was widely reported that the Coyotes would move to Winnipeg last year if no deal could be made in Glendale. This isn't lack of objectivity or absence of verifying facts, this is exactly as you put it, background facts.

      The official announcement from David Thomson?? Announcement of what? You clearly don't understand how Thomson works. He is a silent partner. He is not a loud, brash, rah-rah guy. Nor would the NHL approve of that. The Winnipeg ownership group is very much on the record of being ready to buy the Coyotes and wanting to put an NHL team in Winnipeg. However, they are playing along with the NHL's rules, not rocking the boat, and letting the process play out, which is appreciated by the NHL.

      I'm guessing you're a Coyotes fan. I hope you're not a Glendale resident. If you are, you should be FAR more concerned about the 'sleazy' deal with Hulsizer that will leave Glendale taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions.

      Get a grip man.

      • Right. The farm team of the Vancouver Canucks is an obvious link to a new NHL franchise in Winnipeg … how, exactly? Silent partner or not, until there is a public record of his supposed involvement in this so-called ownership group then it is all heresy and should be either tagged as such or not reported at all.

        The only person alive? Not at all – many members of the media have asked this exact same question, but they dont get the retweets and reposts that the cheerleaders get. And Coyotes fan? Hardly – I bleed Red Wings red & white and the blue blanc et rouge of my hometown Hamilton Bulldogs. But as a hockey fan and a Canadian, I am embarrassed and appalled by the blatantly self-serving bias that most of our country's media shows when talking about the Coyotes situation.

        • True North may not have made a public statement, but considering they have just built a new practice facility and done major upgrades to the club boxes in the arena, is seems pretty obvious they are expecting to get a team. And clearly, Bettman's own statements are that he is prepared to give them a chance if other markets fail. True North have an extremely well run entertainment facility, and clearly they believe that the NHL will be profitable for them. If this were not the case, then why isn't there talk about moving the Coyotes to other cities?

    • This is not a myth, it is fact. David THompson is a silent partner to true north. The fact still remains that the arena has already expanded their press boxes, they also have a world class facility known as the mts iceplex 4 arena venue which just hosted the world juniors. These people have money and lots of it. You must be refering to the media as Arizona press, because it is well known fact in canadain media who david thompson is and who he is associated with. David owns the media press in canada known as Rueters. So get your head out of your ass and start researching before you put anything into print.

  47. OMG – you might be the only person alive questioning the facts around Thomson. Well, let's see, Thomson is currently part of the ownership group of the Manitoba Moose. It was widely reported that the Coyotes would move to Winnipeg last year if no deal could be made in Glendale. This isn't lack of objectivity or absence of verifying facts, this is exactly as you put it, background facts.

    The official announcement from David Thomson?? Announcement of what? You clearly don't understand how Thomson works. He is a silent partner. He is not a loud, brash, rah-rah guy. Nor would the NHL approve of that. The Winnipeg ownership group is very much on the record of being ready to buy the Coyotes and wanting to put an NHL team in Winnipeg. However, they are playing along with the NHL's rules, not rocking the boat, and letting the process play out, which is appreciated by the NHL.

    I'm guessing you're a Coyotes fan. I hope you're not a Glendale resident. If you are, you should be FAR more concerned about the 'sleazy' deal with Hulsizer that will leave Glendale taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions.

    Get a grip man.

  48. Well, Judge, many, many others disagree with you, and under the current economic conditions, nobody is doubting whether an NHL team in Winnipeg could be profitable.

  49. Actually, to be fair, Hulsizer did agree to those terms, but the NHL and Glendale balked.

  50. Right. The farm team of the Vancouver Canucks is an obvious link to a new NHL franchise in Winnipeg … how, exactly? Silent partner or not, until there is a public record of his supposed involvement in this so-called ownership group then it is all heresy and should be either tagged as such or not reported at all.

    The only person alive? Not at all – many members of the media have asked this exact same question, but they dont get the retweets and reposts that the cheerleaders get. And Coyotes fan? Hardly – I bleed Red Wings red & white and the blue blanc et rouge of my hometown Hamilton Bulldogs. But as a hockey fan and a Canadian, I am embarrassed and appalled by the blatantly self-serving bias that most of our country's media shows when talking about the Coyotes situation.

  51. There was once a time when young athletes were willing to play anywhere if it meant realizing a lifelong dream to play professional sports, but you're probably right, Anonymous: no one will want to play in Winnepeg. I mean, just imagine! Playing hockey in a city that's cold in the wintertime! And if anybody thinks that the Phoenix Coyotes could become the new and resurrected Quebec Nordiques, they should think again. Young anglophone hockey players don't want to have to speak French in the heart of La Belle Province. Having a dream to play professional sports ain't what it used to be.

  52. I say let's get hockey teams in Ottawa and Toronto. LOL.

  53. Winnepeg is the fourth or fifth largest city in Canada, Judge. If Winnepeg can't support a team, then surely Edmonton won't be able to support the OIlers for much longer, not to mention Ottawa supporting the Senators.

  54. True North may not have made a public statement, but considering they have just built a new practice facility and done major upgrades to the club boxes in the arena, is seems pretty obvious they are expecting to get a team. And clearly, Bettman's own statements are that he is prepared to give them a chance if other markets fail. True North have an extremely well run entertainment facility, and clearly they believe that the NHL will be profitable for them. If this were not the case, then why isn't there talk about moving the Coyotes to other cities?

  55. The empty seats in the picture should tell you enough, and ask the 3 ladies on the left if they paid $100 for their seats.

  56. The empty seats in the picture should tell you enough, and ask the 3 ladies on the left if they paid $100 for their seats.

  57. This is not a myth, it is fact. David THompson is a silent partner to true north. The fact still remains that the arena has already expanded their press boxes, they also have a world class facility known as the mts iceplex 4 arena venue which just hosted the world juniors. These people have money and lots of it. You must be refering to the media as Arizona press, because it is well known fact in canadain media who david thompson is and who he is associated with. David owns the media press in canada known as Rueters. So get your head out of your ass and start researching before you put anything into print.

  58. Frisoni writes “The overwhelming majority of the Canadian press has taken a position that in the States only editorial writers would do.” What? Give me a break! The US can dish it out but can't take it. Any media I have seen about Canada from the States is belittling and full of derision or mockery. I'd almost ask if ANY press out of the US is not editorial in nature. That's who they are by definition. Even the Economist treats Canada like an inherently inferior country. We're used to it. The States which is entering its own era of deep weakness will simply have to get over itself.

    I sure hope the team moves back up to Manitoba, regardless of what Shane Doan wants. His family lives on an amazing ranch in Alberta. If he thinks Phoenix, USA (a totally lame and bland city) is cool, he's welcome to stay behind.

  59. Frisoni writes “The overwhelming majority of the Canadian press has taken a position that in the States only editorial writers would do.” What? Give me a break! The US can dish it out but can't take it. Any media I have seen about Canada from the States is belittling and full of derision or mockery. I'd almost ask if ANY press out of the US is not editorial in nature. That's who they are by definition. Even the Economist treats Canada like an inherently inferior country. We're used to it. The States which is entering its own era of deep weakness will simply have to get over itself.

    I sure hope the team moves back up to Manitoba, regardless of what Shane Doan wants. His family lives on an amazing ranch in Alberta. If he thinks Phoenix, USA (a totally lame and bland city) is cool, he's welcome to stay behind.

  60. Sounds great, Duke – Except for one thing: Arizona, USA is Dullsville….

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