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McKenzie: We should get answers to our Coyotes question soon

Bob McKenzie
4/13/2011 5:34:58 PM
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Where will the Phoenix Coyotes be playing next season?

Well, since you asked, I will say it's more likely to be Winnipeg than Phoenix. That's my opinion.

I say probably, and qualify it as my "opinion," because all the factual information I can find says to me very clearly that no final or irrevocable decision on the future home of the Coyotes has yet been made by any of the three vested parties - the NHL, the City of Glendale and would-be (under the right circumstances) owner Matthew Hulsizer.

And if we have learned anything in this long and winding Coyotes' saga in Phoenix it is that it ain't over until one of three parties pulls out and says it's dead.

Could that happen? Sure, it could.

When might it happen? I don't know, it could be days or maybe a week or two or three. Months is certainly not a viable answer because if the Coyotes are going to relocate to Winnipeg or anywhere else, there is much that needs to be done to facilitate it both within the league and the new market as well.

So whether it's days or weeks, we should get an answer to our question soon enough.

Now, here's another question: Is there a chance the Coyotes stay put in Phoenix for next season and beyond?

My opinion on that is a qualified yes, it's not entirely out of the question, it could still happen. I think it's probably a longshot at this point and perhaps getting to be a longer shot with each passing day that the NHL, City of Glendale and Hulsizer don't announce they have a deal.

But we must also allow for the possibility of a rabbit to be pulled out of the hat, that as long as the Hulsizer deal hasn't been declared dead it could still be resurrected in some form to keep the Coyotes in the desert.

For weeks now, a lot of people in the NHL community at large have been whispering that the Hulsizer deal is dead or on life support with little or no chance of being revived, but, as of this particular moment in time, none of the three vested parties have communicated that in any meaningful way.

Maybe that changes tomorrow or next week or whenever.

In the meantime, the good news is we have the Stanley Cup playoffs to keep us busy.

I said more than a month or so ago that, for the first time ever, I felt like Winnipeg was a legitimate landing spot for the Coyotes and the return of the NHL to Manitoba could become reality.

For every day that has gone by since then that there hasn't been an announcement the Coyotes are staying Phoenix, I've been getting a stronger feeling that they may actually end up in Winnipeg. With each day that continues to pass without a resolution in Phoenix, that feeling will only intensify.

But for me to suggest it's fait accompli, a done deal, that there is no chance of them staying in Phoenix and that Winnipeg is guaranteed of getting back the NHL?

I can't make that leap. Not at this point and I wouldn't even venture a guess when, or if, we do get to that point.

Bob McKenzie

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