Balsillie may bail on bid

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Lawyers for Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix yesterday that says BlackBerry bigwig Jim Balsillie will withdraw his offer to purchase the NHL franchise if the sale cannot be completed by the end of June.

"Any prospective purchaser that is serious about acquiring (the team) will want any transaction closed before the coming NHL draft ... on June 26 and June 27, and finalization of the 2009-2010 game schedule," the documented stated. "This is especially true if the prospective purchaser wishes to relocate the hockey club -- the purchaser will need adequate time to, among other things, get the new arena (Copps Coliseum) ready for the 2009-2010 season, obtain and line up sponsors and television contracts, and sell tickets to games.

"In other words, a sale cannot drag through the summer of 2009."

The document further stated that Balsillie's group will not fund another year of significant losses (which approach nearly $30 million US per year) and if the sale is not approved by the end of June, Balsillie's offer of $212.5 will be withdrawn.

Meanwhile, the NHL and current Phoenix owner Jerry Moyes have reached an agreement on the daily operations of the team while the pending sale of the franchise is in bankruptcy proceedings. Both sides have expressed concern over the ability of the team to prepare for the coming draft and free agency, which begins July 1.

"It's certainly a concern that, pending a decision by the court, 100% of the Club's focus can't be on doing what they need to do to be successful in Glendale (at Jobing.com Arena) next season," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sun Media in an e-mail yesterday.

The NHL has been funding the Coyotes since Moyes petitioned the club into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and declared his intent on selling the team to Balsillie, who wishes to move it to Hamilton.

Judge Redfield T. Baum last week ordered the NHL and the Coyotes' ownership into mediation and will hear from them today in court.

"Nothing has changed since we first tabled our offer," Balsillie spokesman Bill Walker said yesterday. "As far as we're concerned, it's status quo, nothing's changed. The original offer remains the original offer."

Balsillie, the co-founder of Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry, said previously that he would be willing to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix for one more year as long as the NHL was willing to pay for the losses.

The city of Glendale, meanwhile, has launched a lawsuit to force the team to stay at the Jobing.com Arena.


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