Peddie on the pedestal

Jim Balsillie's bid group is asking for Richard Peddie's deposition at the Coyotes bankruptcy...

Jim Balsillie's bid group is asking for Richard Peddie's deposition at the Coyotes bankruptcy hearing in Phoenix. (Sun Media/Dave Abel)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Jim Balsillie's quest to bring the Phoenix Coyotes north is hoping to go through Bay St., and the office of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. president and CEO Richard Peddie.

It's Peddie whom Balsillie's lawyers have asked, among other NHL execs, to an Arizona bankruptcy court to be subjected to a deposition, explaining the Leafs' position on a competing team setting up a half hour's drive away in Hamilton.

In a request yesterday, PSE Sports and Entertainment (Balsillie) said it believes "that, notwithstanding the NHL's pretextual arguments, the Maple Leafs are trying to block PSE's purchase of the Coyotes in order to prevent a Hamilton relocation and competition with the Leafs in Southern Ontario. Mr. Peddie is thus a central witness on the relocation issue."

Later yesterday, the NHL did agree to allow depositions from commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly and two league owners, Jeremy Jacobs and Craig Leipold, but want the proposed deposition of Peddie scrapped by Judge Redfield T. Baum.

Peddie could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Balsillie's attempt to buy the bankrupt Coyotes for $212.5 million US and move them to Hamilton has hit strong NHL opposition and was dealt a hard blow on Tuesday when the Coyotes' biggest creditor abandoned Balsillie for rival bidder Jerry Reinsdorf.

In its earlier filing yesterday, Balsillie's lawyers urged that the NHL personnel provide interviews and documents prior to a Sept. 2 hearing when many of the motions surrounding the tangled case will be sorted by Baum prior to the actual auction process on Sept. 10. Reinsdorf's bid is $148 million with the league's blessing, but dependent on side deals with local officials in Glendale.

The Balsillie group is particularly interested in seeing purchase agreements for a number of NHL teams since 2000, gate receipts for teams such as the Leafs since 1996 and "all documents pertaining to the prospect of another franchise entering the Southern Ontario market".

But the league has kept arguing that such points are moot because it has already overwhelmingly rejected Balsillie as an owner for reasons not connected to the Coyotes' proposed move into the rich Toronto market.

In another document filed yesterday under Baum's direction, the NHL wants depositions from Balsillie, his lawyer Richard Rodier, current Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes and his lawyer, Earl Scudder, and Coyotes president and CEO Doug Moss. Baum, however, has warned all parties that there is not enough time to satisfy all such requests prior to Sept. 10.

DECISION TIME

At the Sept. 2 hearing, Baum will decide whether he should disregard the NHL board of governors' recent 26-0 rejection of Balsillie and designate him a qualified bidder for the team.

The NHL also is trying to convince Baum that it's too late in the process to move the Coyotes to Copps Coliseum in Hamilton for 2009-10, with the team set to open training camp on Sept. 12.

-- with files from Canadian Press


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