Addressing the issue at the start of his weekly radio show, The NHL Hour on SIRIUS XM Radio, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed Phoenix Coyotes
' bankruptcy petition scheduled for late Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix.
Bettman said the NHL is prepared to defend its rules and policies in court.
"The two most important issues for any sports league are, who owns its franchises and where its clubs are located," Bettman said. "The NHL, like the other sports leagues, has clear rules, policies and procedures to deal with those two issues. The issue in Phoenix deals simply with who owns and controls the franchise and where the franchise will be located.
"Today in about 30 minutes, we are in bankruptcy court in Arizona for what we believe will be a preliminary proceeding, most likely to set the schedule of things to take place with the Coyotes," Bettman continued. "As Commissioner of the NHL, my role is to enforce the league rules, policies and procedures. For the good of the clubs, the health of the League, and the support of our fans, I will do the right thing and apply the rules as they have always been applied."
A bankruptcy petition related to the Coyotes was filed Tuesday. Bettman said at a public forum Wednesday the petition was filed "not because creditors were working and seeking redress for not being paid," but because there was an offer to buy the franchise and move it, apparently, from Jim Balsillie, co-CEO, Research In Motion, which makes the Blackberry.
"In the final analysis, what we do is all about, really, our fans," Bettman said. "Our fans play an essential role in all the decisions that we make. You support our clubs and we have a commitment to you. We don't run out on our fans when issues arise with our clubs. We fix the problems. Our track record of fixing clubs is pretty strong. The Pittsburgh Penguins
are a good example of this and now they are thriving. Over the years, there have been others, in Buffalo, Ottawa and at least two other Canadian teams.
"We owe it to our fans and the game to enforce the rules and follow our processes and our procedures. It's really no more complicated than that. So, while my guess is people are going to want to talk about it, I'm going to have to be somewhat circumspect with things that are before the court."