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Winnipeg to find out soon if Coyotes are coming back to town

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Darren Dreger
5/7/2010 3:39:13 PM
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Winnipeg will soon find out whether or not the Phoenix Coyotes franchise will return to the city it once called home.

Sources tell TSN this decision will be made within the next three weeks, if not sooner.

With Jerry Reinsdorf's deal to buy the Coyotes hanging precariously in limbo, sources say Glendale city officials are scrambling, trying to push Ice Edge Holdings to sign an agreement of exclusivity, with ties to the existing lease, in time to position a proposal for vote at next Tuesday's Glendale city council meeting.

Ice Edge has been willing to discuss the possibility, but without an assurance that the city is committed to funding operating losses next season, a deal with Ice Edge may not get off the ground.

Sources close to the situation are also concerned Glendale may be using Ice Edge as leverage to lure Reinsdorf back into discussions and perhaps, into a revised proposal that is far less reliant on city subsidies.

If the Reinsdorf deal is officially pulled off the table and Glendale and the NHL cannot present Ice Edge with a purchase package this group is willing to swiftly accept, the National Hockey League may have to expedite its plan "B" and relocate the Coyotes.

Although there is no deal in place to formalize Winnipeg as the relocation target, Winnipeg is considered the frontrunner based on the belief the cities fan base and arena makes it a turn key operation available to house an NHL team in a short turnaround period.

True North Sports and Entertainment Limited, the Winnipeg-based group that owns the MTS Centre, addressed the situation in a press release on Thursday afternoon.

"While we understand the current situation with the hockey team in Glendale is an uncertain one, we will continue to respect the efforts of all parties involved to maintain the Coyotes in Arizona, including those of the National Hockey League," the organization said. "As we have stated many times in the past, if that situation changes, we are certainly open to reviewing the opportunity with the NHL."

Quebec City, Kansas City and Las Vegas are also among the cities identified on the list of options. However, the NHL would require assurances from Vegas and Quebec City that new, acceptable facilities, would be built in a timely manner.

Dale Hawerchuk (Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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