By Nate Hanson, Sports Radio KJR
It feels like May all over again. Elliotte Friedman of CBC told The Furness Show that the NHL could reward Seattle with an expansion franchise if the Coyotes stay in Phoenix.
“I would almost wonder if they expanded,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me that the league would let this Seattle thing walk away.”
Déjà vu? Just a little over a month ago Sonics fans heard the same rumors. While it appears the NBA will return to Seattle, there is still no guaranteed date. Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer’s pitch to the NBA seemed too good to ignore. Friedman thinks Commission Gary Bettman is in a similar situation.
“Is the NHL gonna suddenly say to these guys, who have 220 million dollars, we think, to put into a team, ‘thanks but no thanks’?” he said. “I can’t imagine him [Bettman] letting them walk away.”
Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza are reportedly willing to purchase the Coyotes for $220 million. If Bartoszek and Lanza do not get public funding from the City of Glendale by July 2, they will reportedly move the Coyotes to Seattle.
That means the ball is still in the court of the Glendale City Council. Friedman said he is hearing that three council members are against funding the Coyotes, while three others support public funding. It could come down to newly-elected Mayor Jerry Weiers.
“One of the things that he ran on was that we have to stop giving these crazy subsidies for the Phoenix Coyotes,” Friedman said. “But since then, guys tell me he’s been showing up at games wearing a Coyotes jersey with ‘Mayor’ and ‘1’ on the back of it.”
Friedman went on to describe the quandary for Glendale. He said public jobs are being slashed, but that the city will lose a lot of money if the Jobing.com Arena, which hosts the Coyotes, is vacant.
“What are they willing to do, what are they not willing to do?” Friedman said. “And depending on what they choose, that’s gonna make the NHL’s decision for it.”
If the city of Glendale declines to fund the Coyotes, it seems the team will be in Seattle for the 2013-14 season. If so, KeyArena, which is not a hockey-friendly facility, will likely be the temporary home for the Coyotes.
“Are you willing to put up with short-term pain for long-term gain?” Friedman said. “I think if they knew they were getting a new arena, I think they would put up with the issue in the short-term.”
Although Friedman would not say the NHL’s arrival to Seattle is inevitable, he believes Seattle is as close as it’s ever been to getting an NHL team.
“Seattle’s chances have never been better than they are right now.”
Once again, Friedman would not leave out the possibility of expansion.
“They [Seattle] have two guys who are apparently willing to pay 220 million dollars to make it happen,” Friedman said. “If that’s the case, a league like the National Hockey League is not gonna turn that down if it’s actually there.”
You can listen to the entire interview below: