Winnipeg looks like only option for NHL

A Hockey fan holds a sign about the Goldwater Institute on Tuesday March 29th at Jobbing.com Arena...

A Hockey fan holds a sign about the Goldwater Institute on Tuesday March 29th at Jobbing.com Arena in Glendale, AZ. (Andy DeLisle/QMI AGENCY)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:28 PM ET

So if history’s going to repeat itself, I guess we should be taking the Red Wings in six.

That would bring the whole Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes saga full circle, complete with a final lap around the ice before a bawling sea of white.

Do I think it’s going to happen?

No.

The Coyotes could just as easily fall to Detroit in five.

Or seven.

Maybe even survive the first round for the first time since the franchise did it as the Jets in 1987.

The part about a tearful final lap probably won’t happen, either.

Because the crowd in Glendale, if that’s where the Coyotes howl for the last time, likely won’t be aware of it, the way we were here in the ’Peg, 15 years ago.

As for this apparently cursed franchise returning to its original cradle of mediocrity, yeah, that’s starting to look like the only option.

Not because a source with knowledge of the negotiation told me, Wednesday — on the condition of anonymity — that the deal between the city of Glendale and Matt Hulsizer is “on life support.”

After all, it’s been on life support for a few months, now. The NHL wanted this transaction closed by New Year’s Day, remember?

Not because two sports radio blowhards at The Fan 590 in Toronto quoted their sources as saying the deal is “all but dead,” and that the moment the Coyotes are eliminated from the playoffs — assuming they are, eventually, eliminated — the NHL will announce the relocation.

In case you didn’t know, there’s a serious sports radio war being waged in the Big Smoke, with TSN unveiling its new station Wednesday. You think the gang at The Fan figured they could make a bit of a splash by proclaiming hockey “all but dead” in the desert?

Way to go out on a limb, fellas. That’s a call anybody could make. If it turns out to be wrong, oh well, they manufactured an 11th-hour miracle.

No, the reason I’m more convinced than ever the NHL is coming back is based not on the report du jour racing like a wildfire through Twitterdom, but on common sense.

This is far later than the league wanted this nightmare put to bed. The fact it hasn’t been closed going into the playoffs says it all.

Every day that passes without a positive (for Phoenix) announcement from commissioner Gary Bettman tilts this thing further in Winnipeg’s direction.

Bettman is pushing the envelope for when he needs to finalize the makeup of his league next season. The fact Atlanta is demanding attention, too, has only intensified the crisis, the commish’s most serious since the lockout.

It’s possible the NHL has thrown in the towel on the Coyotes, although deputy commissioner Bill Daly denies it.

“No decisions have been made and there are no timetables for a decision,” Daly said in an e-mail. “And we are continuing to actively pursue efforts to effectuate a sale of the franchise in Glendale.”

It’s also possible the league won’t pull the plug, can’t, until all the loved ones have come by to pay their last respects. That is, until Coyotes fans have no more reason to buy tickets, cash that goes directly into league coffers, mitigating losses threatening to hit a reported $40 million this season.

So the death watch continues, the heartbeat fainter than ever, amidst the adrenaline rush of the playoffs.

Talk about a flashback.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.

Twitter@friesensunmedia


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