SUN Hockey Pool

Full steam ahead on Coyotes sale

Matthew Hulsizer, CEO of PEAK6 Investments, attends an NHL game between the Red Wings and the...

Matthew Hulsizer, CEO of PEAK6 Investments, attends an NHL game between the Red Wings and the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale on October 16, 2010. (CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/Getty Images)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:34 AM ET

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It wasn't a good-news day for Winnipeg hockey fans.

Or for those in Quebec City for that matter, either.

The sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Matt Hulsizer is plowing ahead with the NHL's executive committee liking what it saw from the 40-year-old Chicago financier in an interview Monday. It looked like if the NHL didn't have an owner who would keep the team in Glendale in place by the end of the month, Winnipeg was at the top of the list for relocation of the franchise it lost to the desert in 1996.

"It was a very good interview. I thought Matt did a great job. The executive committee was unanimous in their support of his application for ownership," said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

The next step for Hulsizer is to finalize a new lease for Jobing.com Arena with the city of Glendale. That could happen as soon as Dec. 14, when Glendale city council meets.

Daly then spent some time throwing water on the notion the Atlanta Thrashers, who have battled ownership turmoil and attendance woes, could be next up for relocation any time soon. The issue became a hot topic after Daly talked about the situation on the Illegal Curve Hockey Show last weekend.

Said Daly on the show: "I would acknowledge that Atlanta historically has been a difficult sports market, and I can't exactly put my finger on it as to why that's been the case. You make good points when you point to the fact that the Atlanta Braves make the playoffs 13 consecutive years in baseball, where it is a little more difficult to make the playoffs. And they are having difficulty selling out their home playoff games, which, you would think in most markets is unheard of. So, Atlanta has proven to be a very difficult market.

"Again, it might be a situation where the building location isn't ideal in that market, and if it was built in a different location within the Atlanta Metropolitan location, it might be drawing better. But those are all issues that are important issues, obviously the building is not moving. We're going to have to look at the long-term prospects of that franchise, and if the determination is made that it can't make it there, and can't be successful there, then something will have to be done."

Monday, Daly clarified his comments.

"I don't think there's anything we've ever said that would be inconsistent with the concept of trying to be successful in the markets we're in over an extended period of time, giving them every opportunity to be successful," he said.

"In the event they aren't successful, for whatever reason, obviously you look at other alternatives and relocation is another alternative. I didn't mean to suggest anything was imminent in Atlanta. I obviously think that over time you've got to look at the viability of the marketplace."

Despite reports Quebec's candidacy for a franchise will be on the agenda for Tuesday, Daly said nothing has changed.

"We've met with people interested in owning a team in Quebec, but the commissioner has been consistent all along. The key to a team returning is a new building and as far as I know there is no new news. (Quebec) won't receive serious consideration until there's a new building."

In other news

- NHL owners are going to have about $3 million more to throw at players next season.

That was the word from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Projections indicate the salary cap will rise from about $59.4 million to about $62 million.

Daly said the forecast is preliminary, but would indicate the cap will get a bump, as it has every year since the salary cap was implemented for the 2005-06 season.

"You build in a whole bunch of assumptions and variables and you try to give them a sense of where that might be," said Daly, adding the in-season forecast has been pretty accurate in the preceeding seasons.

"It depends on the variables. We use as much information as we have and we try and make reasonable projections. There are things like whether the union wants to invoke a 5% inflator that comes into play, the value of the Canadian currency and where that goes for the rest of the year comes into play.

"Obviously the accuracy of the projections themselves, what the clubs are experiencing in their revenues, what we're experiencing in our revenues, they all come into play. I think for the most part based on the information we have, they've been reasonable projections."

- The governors approved the sale of the 22% ownership stake held in the Calgary Flames by Harley Hotchkiss to his partners.

- The governors also got to see a 12-minute preview of the 24/7 HBO special on the runup to the Winter Classic outdoor game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals Jan. 1.

"They were the best production values I've seen on anything to do with hockey," said one governor.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


Photos