NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met with reporters Monday in Phoenix after the latest U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearings regarding the Coyotes franchise. In that hearing, Judge Redfield T. Baum approved an accelerated schedule for an auction sale among local bidders who would keep the team in Glendale, Ariz. The local bidder deadline would be Aug. 5. Baum also set Sept. 10 as a fallback date for a relocation auction. Here is an edited transcript of Daly's conversation with the media.
Daly: We’re pleased that the judge adopted the two-tiered approach to the auction, and we’re confident – we’ve said all along we’re confident – there’s a viable offer that will make this team viable in Glendale, and now we’ll let that process play out.
Q: How important was it for you guys to go first?
A: I think it’s important. It was very important. That’s what we’ve preached all along, and our objective all along has been to find a local owner who will make the team viable in Glendale and will generate enough cash to pay the creditors. That’s what our objective has been.
Q: The city vehemently disputes Mr. Rodier’s claim that ‘massive’ concessions from the city are going to be needed to keep this team here.
A: I’ve said from the start that’s more for the city to comment on, but they understand the importance of having the Coyotes in the jobing.com arena. They’ve made an incredible investment on behalf of the Club, and they know that some adjustments to that relationship have to happen to help make the Club viable, and I think they are willing to entertain having those discussions to partner with the Club in making it a better situation. I haven’t been part of those discussions, and I don’t know the specifics or details of them, but I know that there seems to be a level of confidence from the city and from the potential buyers that it can get done.
Q: How concerned are you that the judge would say, ‘This bid’s just not good enough.’
A: It’s always a possibility. I hope that won’t be the case.
Q: There’s always been this talk about whether Mr. Moyes is a creditor. Is there some dispute there?
A: Obviously Mr. Moyes put a lot of money into this Club over a number of years, and how that should be characterized legally – as to whether it’s debt, whether it’s equity or maybe it’s more properly characterized as a hybrid: Maybe he is a creditor but a subordinated creditor. And the thing about bankruptcy is, you try to generate the best bid available to generate cash for creditors, but not all creditors end up getting paid all the time.
Q: How soon can you rule on Balsillie’s applications?
A: That’s a good question. As we’ve said all along, a relocation application, properly looked at and reviewed, is something that takes several months. It’s not something that takes several weeks. I think we’re going to focus, in the first instance, on a local sale process, an auction process, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t going to continue to process Mr. Balsillie’s applications . . . We’re going to update the Board of Governors on the status of the Phoenix situation at our Board meeting on Wednesday, and I’ll have a better sense where the Board wants to go in terms of processing those applications.
Q: Would you be surprised to see them approve a relocation – especially to Mr. Balsillie, after what the League’s been put through?
A: Two separate issues. I’m not going to presume what the Board might do, because it’s totally within their power. But certainly, I think the Board has legitimate questions as to his suitability as an owner.
Q: To the average Joes in Phoenix who’s listening, what does today mean to them. Why should they care about it?
A: I think they should care about it because it gives the Coyotes a real shot to remain in the Phoenix/Glendale area, and certainly when we make commitments to communities and when those commitments are backed up by $200-million facilities, we want to give teams every chance to be successful. And so we think the two-step auction process gives an opportunity to someone to step forward in Glendale, keep the team here and make it viable.
What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.
— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp