Slam dunk in desert for Coyotes

If Glendale, Ariz., mayor Elaine Scruggs gets her way at Tuesday night's city council meeting,...

If Glendale, Ariz., mayor Elaine Scruggs gets her way at Tuesday night's city council meeting, Shane Doan and the rest of the Phoenix Coyotes will be staying in the desert for at least another year.

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Let’s begin with a few predictions for Tuesday night’s city council meeting in Glendale, Ariz.

Mayor Elaine Scruggs will throw out some scary numbers about how much Glendale stands to lose if the Coyotes leave.

A few councillors will stand up and do their best Scruggs impersonation, imploring their colleagues to dig deeper into the taxpayer purse to keep them.

And a seven-year-old boy named Logan will show up wearing his Shane Doan jersey, pleading with the politicians to save his team.

This time, though, veteran rabble-rousing councillor Phil Lieberman vows he won’t allow the little guy to tug his emotional chain.

“He will no doubt be there,” Lieberman told me, Monday. “I don’t want his grandchildren paying with their taxes for the deal that we make this year for the Coyotes.”

You may recall Lieberman’s flip-flop on a previous Coyotes vote, based on the Logan factor.

This time he says he’s all but certain to vote against a promise to cover another $25 million in losses, buying the NHL more time to complete a sale of the team to somebody who’ll keep it in Phoenix.

“I’ve been on the council 20 years, and I’ve never seen us in such a position that we are now,” Lieberman said. “Why do we want to throw another $25 million in, when we lost the other $25 million even though we had been assured by everybody that it would never be used? Because if nothing happens, a year from now we will be in the same position.”

Trouble is, Lieberman is probably in the minority, as he knows of just one other councillor who’s definitely on his side — and three who’d side with the mayor if she wanted to bring back public hangings.

‘Cohorts’

“I believe the mayor and her three cohorts, who have never voted against her in all the time they have served on the council ... makes me wonder why I need voted reps if they’re not going to use their own mind,” Lieberman said. “I believe it will pass. That doesn’t mean it will pass with my vote.”

It won’t pass without some voiced opposition, either.

Winnipeg’s favourite public watchdog, the Goldwater Institute, will make a presentation, and we know where they stand.

But it’s doubtful the continued threat of a lawsuit will derail the plans of a mayor who’s obviously hell-bent on preventing the publicly funded Jobing.com Arena, not to mention the surrounding area, from becoming a white elephant.

Lieberman says he understands that argument. But...

“I have shopping centres all over town that could use millions,” he said. “Our staff doesn’t understand that at some point taxpayers are finally going to pull their pants up, hopefully, and say, ‘No, not now.’ ”

That time, it appears, remains a ways off down in Glendale.

Which means Winnipeg hockey fans will likely be left to pull up their socks and and give up the dream of repatriating the Jets.

All is not lost, however.

Because if you turn your attention eastward, to Atlanta, you’ll find yet another southern NHL franchise bleeding profusely.

There’s even a theory that a relocation fee gleaned from the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers could somehow facilitate a Coyotes deal, a suggestion the NHL refutes.

“We do not view (and are not treating) the two situations as linked,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

The two are far different. Atlanta doesn’t have the taxpayer, or the NHL, heavily invested.

There’s probably a seven-year-old who cares.

But I doubt he’ll ever get the chance to put on his Thrashers jersey and show up at city council meeting to plead for somebody to save his team.

Not that I’m making any predictions.


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