NHL should let Dogs out

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

I have never met John Breslow, but I do have a very public offer for him.

If he is willing to pay me $10 million as an adviser, I guarantee I can save him $35 million more in the short-term. Significantly more than that over the long-term.

You see, Breslow says he wants to buy the Phoenix Coyotes. He wants to keep them in Phoenix. He is clearly a dreamer or a man who either has too much money or not a clue.

My advice: Put your chequebook away. It's over for the Coyotes in Phoenix. We don't need a U.S. bankruptcy court to tell us that much. Never mind the vigilance of commissioner Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League about not abandoning a city and a franchise (even if they already abandoned the franchise owner, Jerry Moyes, and vice versa). This franchise, in Phoenix, has also been abandoned by the paying customer.

If this wasn't so complicated with laws and animosities, it would be a simple matter of supply and demand, this fight to purchase and move the Coyotes to Hamilton. There is supply: An actual on-the-rise hockey team, just no demand for it in the wrong place in Arizona. Anquan Boldin matters there; Ed Jovanovski doesn't.

There is demand in Southern Ontario, where Leafs tickets are both scarce and expensive, just no willingness on the part of the NHL to have their business dictated to them, instead of by them.

The news that Breslow, a minority owner in the Coyotes, has put together a group to make an offer for the team and keep it in Phoenix is nothing short of startling, considering the fact the franchise has yet to make a dime since leaving Winnipeg. Unless it's Breslow's plan to throw his money away -- and hey, I'm offering to steer him, for a small consultant's fee -- or it's some kind of grand tax shelter scheme, why would anyone of sound mind invest in this dead horse?

That's Breslow's concern and only the NHL's concern if he somehow ends up with this team. But the real short-term problem for the NHL in all of this is time. The bankruptcy court doesn't really concern itself with the urgency of the NHL's business. The NHL, though, is very concerned.

They will try, against any better judgment, to keep the franchise in Phoenix, which really, only delays the inevitable. In fact, this war has gotten so out of hand that the NHL may choose to lose more money rather than to allow Jim Balsillie to play in their sandbox.

Some NHL executives have gone so far as to suggest the league would actualy bid against Balsillie if it meant keeping the Coyotes out of his Canadian hands.

The question there, of course, is: How does the league make its money back from that kind of transaction?

What has become clear in all this mud is that this market isn't just hungry for a second NHL team, it's starving. And as I've said before, I don't think Hamilton is the place. Toronto would be my first choice, the Guelph-Cambridge-Waterloo area would be second (easier access from Toronto and London and more of a corporate climate).

What would make sense for the NHL, assuming the court doesn't settle all this, is to suspend the Phoenix operation, disperse their players elsewhere, and announce you will be accepting bids for an NHL expansion franchise in Southern Ontario for the following season. That way you get money for the territory, rather than nothing. You have to figure they could set the price at $250 million to $300 million for an expansion franchise around here.

And if there is a bid process involved, you can pick and choose your owner, rather than having to do business with Balsillie, whom NHL people surely seem exasperated with.

Who knows? Maybe John Breslow will bid for a Southern Ontario team. On that matter, I'd advise him to invest. There, he'd have a chance at making some money.


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