By Ryan Lambert
Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey, occasionally according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
We've heard a lot this summer about how Shane Doan's re-signing with the Phoenix Coyotes was contingent upon the security of the team and its finances, which was apparently where Greg Jamison came in.
You remember Jamison. Former president and CEO of the San Jose Sharks who, in 2002, swooped in with a bunch of investors and saved them from hemorrhaging money and made them a successful franchise, who has, of late, been the most recent in a line of interested parties for these Coyotes.
It all seemed very strange from the start. Jamison is the face of a rather shadowy group of which zero members have been unveiled, nor where their or his money is coming from. Don't worry though, during the Coyotes' run to the Western Conference Final, we were told this was because they didn't want to overshadow the team's somewhat surprising postseason success. And yet, here we are in early August, with the Coyotes' Western Conference Final opponents having lifted the Stanley Cup, and yet, we continue to hear nothing.
Doan, the face of this struggling, bankrupt, league-run franchise, is actively and rather publically taking meetings with the various teams who have expressed an interest in his 35-year-old services. This despite twice extending his deadline to receive assurances from Jamison's group that the sale is moving along and could be resolved in the near future, petitions, threatened lawsuits from conservative thinktanks, and blah blah blah.
It's all becoming very, very easy to get bogged down in the details of a pending deal that Gary Bettman said could be resolved in "weeks as opposed to months" on May 7. And still we have no answers.
The reason for this, it turns out, is that Jamison, as many suspected all along, doesn't quite seem to have the scratch together right now. The league wants $170 million for the Coyotes (meanwhile someone just bought the Cleveland Browns for a whopping $1 billion which seems crazy to me but then I don't care about football), and Jamison apparently only has $150 million shored up. Which creates a terribly interesting problem: He needs the money to buy the team, and not only that, but to then pay Doan whatever ransom the captain demands. But he needs Doan to instill confidence in potential investors, and he can't get Doan without moving toward finalizing the sale, except that… well, you get the picture.
A mess in the desert? An uncertain ownership situation despite a multitude of assurances from the league that this time, the guy they're pushing as the new owner of the Coyotes is really and truly going to actually be able to buy the team? Gosh, where have we heard that before?
It's enough to make one wonder exactly how much of a stomach anyone besides Gary Bettman has for this? The grandiose dream of a team succeeding in Phoenix despite not actually being in Phoenix has turned out to be an even grander illusion, as the league props up a cavalcade of unsuitable suitors as saviors to an ineffible end.
Of course, it remains to be seen where this missing $20 million — a pretty sizable portion of a $170 million bid — comes from, if it comes at all, and whether it'll be too late to keep Doan in brick red and desert sand. And it's still unclear whether, if Jamison can even get that money to complete the sale, where he'll get the money to actually operate the hockey team. The league is apparently so willing to sell the team to Jamison, even at a loss, that it might be willing to "help Jamison's bid with some creative financing" and hope he can raise operating costs after locking up the team, presumably because investors would then find it more attractive.
What a disaster. So many hurdles cleared in the last few months alone to get this done and the latest liberator still needs help getting the financing. We're told he has had the money in the past but had investors back out at the last minute. We're told Jamison himself has lost some money in the process. Basically, we're told a lot of things, all of which are designed to assuage concerns. This guy who doesn't have the money at least has a good reason for not having the money. Great. Very encouraging.
I just don't understand why any of this is a surprise. So many times we've now seen owners who don't have the cash or the interest or the wherewithal to buy this team propped up as a sign of hope, an oasis in this desert largely devoid of hockey interest.
Fans of the team, what few there are, are constantly being given hope only to have it snatched back from them by the fact that no one who wants to buy this team and keep it in Glendale is actually capable of doing so. And even if they are, as Matthew Hulsizer seemed to be, the amount of political crap they had to deal with proved to be too much to make buying a monetary black-hole worth the trouble.
Gary Bettman isn't one to admit defeat, that much we know. We can also, at this point, rest pretty safely in the knowledge that the team has nowhere to go any time soon unless someone wants to swoop in and move them to Kansas City about a month and a half before training camps are scheduled to convene. And so everyone — fans, players, coaches, management, owners, everyone — is stuck with the Coyotes, waiting for someone who might never come.
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on big surprises: "August? WTF?"
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