Playing nice may have its rewards for Ice Edge Holdings, a group of Canadian and American businessman who are suddenly back in the mix to buy the Phoenix Coyotes.
Less than a month after having their lease proposal flatly rejected by the city of Glendale, Ice Edge may be the frontrunner to purchase the team from the NHL, thanks to a reported collapse of talks with Chicago billionaire Jerry Reinsdorf.
After wooing Glendale council, Reinsdorf was thought to be a shoo-in to purchase the team and negotiations with the NHL had already begun in that regard.
But word out of the desert late Thursday is that those talks have collapsed and that Reinsdorf is out of the picture altogether.
Back into it is Ice Edge, a group that perhaps learned a lesson from the brashness of Canadian Jim Balsillie, who annoyed the NHL and most among its board of governors at every move.
After having their lease arrangement flatly rejected in a near unanimous vote by Glendale city council last month, Ice Edge partner Anthony LeBlanc was clearly disappointed but left council chambers with his head held high.
One of the six potential owners in the group refused to criticize either the city or the NHL, hoping to one day get back in the game.
That day has arrived sooner than expected with the demise of the bid by Reinsdorf, owner of the NBA's Chicago Bulls and MLB's Chicago White Sox.
There had been some question about whether the Ice Edge group had the means to finance the roughly $150 million U.S. needed to buy the Coyotes from the NHL. But LeBlanc has assured the city that the financing is ready as soon as the group is given the green light to move forward.
"We have the financing in place and a good portion of it is our own money," LeBlanc told QMI Agency following the council meeting in which city politicians voted down the Ice Edge proposal by a 5-1 count.
LeBlanc and other partners, including the most prominent member in the group, Daryl Jones, had to be frustrated with the way they were rebuffed by Glendale.
In their lease proposal, they guaranteed they would not relocate the franchise for the remainder of the 24 years on the lease. On the other hand, the Reinsdorf lease arrangement had an out clause after five years.
If indeed Reinsdorf is done, there are no guarantees that Ice Edge will be the buyer of the Coyotes. LeBlanc has reportedly been meeting with council several times this week and there is talk that the Glendale politicians will reverse their decision on the Ice Edge proposal as early as Friday morning.
The concern with the Reinsdorf bid is its desire for public subsidies should he conclude the purchase deal.
If problems develop with Ice Edge, reports suggest the NHL could turn to Winnipeg billionaire David Thomson who has approached the league about buying the Coyotes and moving them back to Manitoba.
The timing of the drama comes a year after the team officially filed for bankruptcy (May 5) and Balsillie announced his intention to purchase the team and move it to Hamilton.