NHL commissioner Bill Daly met with the media after Tuesday's Coyotes hearing at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix. Here is an edited transcript of what Daly said:
Q: How would you describe this day?
A: Well, hopefully we’ll get a decision soon from the Court that will help support the Coyotes in Phoenix.
Q: What did you think about the last little thing, where the judge said he might rule in [Jim] Balsillie’s favor just to get you guys to confront the issues?
A: Well, he’s obviously struggling with the issues. I think he openly admitted it’s an unprecedented case, difficult issues in a lot of different areas of the law that are conflicting and he’s got to work those out.
Q: How would you describe the day for the National Hockey League?
A: I can’t really draw any conclusions. I think the judge has a certain style, and I think we saw that style today. He’s obviously got a difficult decision ahead of him, and he committed to us that he’ll make that decision.
Q: Was the fact that he talked about Hamilton as League territory – how important is that to the NHL?
A: I think we felt that was the state of the law and we felt that was pretty well established, so I guess I’m not surprised by it. So it’s an important ruling from that perspective – to the extent he made a ruling. As he said, he doesn’t like to make rulings from the bench. But it’s an important principle for sports leagues.
Q: Are you prepared to put out a number [amount of a potential relocation fee] tomorrow, if need be?
A: No. I don’t think we are prepared to put out a number. That’s something that is generally determined by the Board of Governors in the context of a relocation application. And from our perspective, we have a couple of steps before we get to a relocation application.
Q: So what happens if he forces the issue and says that it’s got to happen?
A: Well, obviously, we respect the decisions of the Court, and we work within the legal process to do what we need to do to do what’s best for the League.
Q: Is it negotiable?
A: Well, it has to have a justified basis, and some criteria around it, but typically, in our history, the number has been, to some extent, a product of negotiation.
Q: He seemed to dismiss the claim that this would “wreak havoc” in professional sports if the team moved under these circumstances. What was your thought on that?
A: He certainly raised that – and that being his view, I think the point is not necessarily one move, I think it’s creating the precedent that you can come to a bankruptcy court and get the bankruptcy court to throw out the League’s rules and processes. And I do think that would have a severe risk of creating havoc for all sports leagues.
Q: Is there a chance of getting an official bid from somebody else as this proceeding goes on?
A: I think part of the problem is what [NHL attorney] Mr. [Tony] Clark’s been saying repeatedly to the judge: Until people know what they’re bidding on, it’s hard for them to come forward with a bid. Having said that, they’ll be guided by some of the actions of the Court, and who knows? Maybe there will be a bid. Maybe there won’t be.
Q: When Colorado moved to New Jersey, what was the indemnification for Philadelphia, New York and Long Island?
A: There were different elements of indemnification. There was a territorial indemnification for the Rangers and there was a television territory indemnification for the Islanders and Flyers. It was, relatively speaking, a very large number for that time – well in excess of the value of the franchise.
Q: What would that have been numbers-wise?
A: The number for the indemnification was roughly twice as much as Mr. [John] McMullen paid for the franchise.
Q: Why did the Commissioner come today?
A: I think the Commissioner felt it was important to have a League presence – the Commissioner’s presence – because these are very important issues to the League, and to the owners in the League. And as Chief Executive Officer of the League, he felt it was important to be here.
Q: How accurate was the $100 million that was thrown out in court?
A: Again, we haven’t even begun that process, and I couldn’t even speculate.
Q: But it was in your filing.
A: No, it wasn’t in our filing – well, I think it was redacted in our filing. I think it was misinterpreted as to what we were saying.
Q: Tony Clark said if the NHL cannot find a buyer to keep the team in Phoenix beyond the 2009-2010 season, it would entertain other offers for the team. How can you ask fans to invest financially and emotionally in this hockey team?
A: Well, we’re very confident we can find a buyer who wants to keep this team in Phoenix. We’ve had conversations with people who want to do that and are willing to bid a sufficient amount to cover creditors, and so we’re very confident in our ability to sell the team in Phoenix.
Q: Long term?
Q: You said they don’t know the financials, they don’t know the whole picture. This bankruptcy has certainly laid out the whole picture.
A: They haven’t necessarily had access to the data room, is what they said. So they do have a sense – some of the people we’re talking about have had access to the Club books and have been working on this for a number of months. So they do have a high level of information already. Having said that, there are issues they want to cover over with a return to the data room, and I anticipate they’ll be able to do that in the coming days.
Q: What’s the number for the City of Glendale’s contribution in the data room? How much do you expect them to contribute to any buyer?
A: Well, that’s not going to be something that’s in the data room. That would be something that the bidder has to deal with the City of Glendale on. It’s a better question for the City of Glendale than it is for me, but they’ve been very receptive to having those talks and having those conversations, because, again, it’s in their interest to have this team stay here – and that’s what we heard today.
Q: Why did [the Commissioner] come today, rather than any other day?
A: They were important issues that were being determined today, or at least being heard today. The relocation and the ownership transfer issues are some of the most fundamental issues we have in our League. So the ability to control who owns our franchises, and where they play their games, you can’t get more important.
Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.
— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals