NHLPA pushes for quick resolution to Coyotes situation


National Hockey League Players’ Association president Paul Kelly said there is great urgency in solving the Phoenix Coyotes crisis. <br>


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BERN, Switzerland — National Hockey League Players’ Association president Paul Kelly said there is great urgency in solving the Phoenix Coyotes crisis.

“We just learned about it for the first time (Tuesday) night and at this point we are watching it carefully,” said Kelly, who is in Switzerland this week for meetings during the medal round of the world hockey championship. “We simply want what is best for the players involved, and not just the Coyotes, but all of the players.”

And the sooner, the better.

“You have scheduling issues,” Kelly said. “You have the draft, and we have players, frankly, that have commitments on homes, condos and families that have to be in school. You can’t let the thing linger much past the end of June for it to be resolved one way or another.”

Research In Motion giant Jim Balsillie made an offer Tuesday to purchase the Coyotes, who on the same day filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. His offer is conditional to the franchise moving to southern Ontario.

While Kelly has visited the Coyotes arena in Glendale and believes it is an attractive facility, with loyal fans, the lease situation is problematic. Ticket revenues are limited because of the distance some fans have to travel to the games.  

“We want what is best for hockey and we want what is best for the players,” Kelly said. “If that turns to to be in Phoenix, that is great and we will support it. If it turns out that bringing in a new owner and moving that team to southern Ontario is best, we will be extremely pleased and that would be great for our players.”

Kelly understands why the NHL has resisted the attempts Balsillie to purchase a franchise.

The BlackBerry billionaire making his third pitch for a franchise, with the intent of moving them to southern Ontario. He previously failed to land the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators.

“The league does not like to be strong-armed and believes it has a number of legal and technical manoeuvres it can take to forcefully block anybody who tries to enter the ownership group,” Kelly said.

Like Balsillie, though, Kelly sees a future for another franchise in or around Toronto.

“I have said it many times, that I think the league should look seriously at putting another team in southern Ontario, either in Toronto or in the Hamilton-Kitchener area,” Kelly said. “There is incredible enthusiasm for hockey in southern Ontario. Certainly they could support a second team.”

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