Reaction begins in aftermath of judge's ruling

Barry Riz, Staff

6/16/2009 12:40:03 AM

The principal parties affected by Judge Redfield T. Baum's ruling that rejected Jim Balsillie's offer to purchase and relocate the Phoenix Coyotes have weighed in on the decision.

Bill Walker, spokesman for Balsillie's PSE Sports and Entertainment group, joined TSN's SportsCentre on Monday evening. He discussed his group's plans in the aftermath of the judge's ruling.

"I think all of our reactions were that this is just the next stage in the process," said Walker.  "The judge essentially rejected the NHL's position in court, and it rejected our position in court. It said that you two need to go away and figure out these relocation issues and what the fee would be, and bring me back the answers so I can approve this deal through bankruptcy."

Walker also suggested that plans for the Balsillie group to pursue the Coyotes franchise will continue.

"We'll start working (on Tuesday) to move this ahead and get a clearer answer from the NHL in terms of their response to the court. The court reiterated that Jim Balsillie is an approved NHL owner as of 2006, that that still remains the fact, and the court said that the NHL needs to set the relocation fee," said Walker. "In many respects the court put the ball back in the NHL's court, and said 'you need to work these things out.'"

Balsillie's group also released a statement prior to the judge's ruling, which indicated that his team will have a live briefing with the media on Tuesday.

The city of Hamilton also remained hopeful following the ruling.  

"Mr. Balsillie released a statement to suggest that it is not over and that they continue to aspire to getting a team in Hamilton,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger on Monday night. "We'll continue to try and impress upon [the NHL] that hockey is very viable in Hamilton and there is lots of community support."

In response to Baum's 21-page ruling, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly released a statement on behalf of the league.

"We're pleased the Court recognized the validity of League rules and our ability to apply them in a reasonable fashion. We will turn our attention now toward helping to facilitate an orderly sales process that will produce a local buyer who is committed to making the Coyotes' franchise viable and successful in the Phoenix/Glendale area," said Daly.

"We are confident that we will be able to find such a buyer for the Coyotes and that the claims of legitimate creditors will be addressed."

Steve Roman, spokesman for Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes, told TSN on Monday evening, "We are disappointed in the ruling and will evaluate our options."