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Thompson vs. Toronto via Winnipeg?


Follow the bouncing puck, here:

Mark Chipman has been trying to get a team back in Winnipeg for a long time, apparently succeeding in principle as of yesterday.  You all know the story behind why Chipman might succeed where Balsillie failed: Chipman co-owns a modern arena already, with the other owner being the scion of Canada's richest family.  Plus, Bettman doesn't hate his ass with the petulance of a toddler entering the Terrible Twos.

The agreement (confirmed by two sources to Nick Kyprios at Sportsnet) is still conditional upon the NHL being unable to find a purchaser in Phoenix before June.  The problem for the NHL is that neither Jerry Reinsdorf nor Ice Edge Holdings wants to get involved as long as Glendale arena refuses to change their lease.  Reinsdorf has already backed out of his rather tepid inquiries once, and Ice Edge hasn't been returning calls since their CEO said he moved to Phoenix, but there are a lot of doubts about whether they can get anything near the financial backing they would need.

Chipman has been on best behaviour, only talking to those teams he has NHL office permission to and never pressing his suit through the media.  More interesting is his partner, David Thompson: Thompson is more likely to be interested in getting a team in the Toronto area.  That would be a few years away as an appropriate location would have to be found and a near-endless stream of lawsuits would have to be brought against the Maple Leafs as they (and Buffalo and Detroit to a lesser degree) tried anything short of assassination of world leaders (probably) to keep a rival team as far away as possible.  Thing is, the Thompson family is worth nearly $30 billion dollars, and they could afford to fight as long as it takes.  And Toronto WILL lose any anti-trust lawsuit that can survive the endurance test.

Now, whether the team in Toronto will be from Winnipeg nee Phoenix, another financially unsuccessful team, or an expansion team, and when exactly a team is going to appear in Toronto are open questions; but one being there is beyond debate.

Bill Daly is saying that absolutely nothing is wrong with the franchise in Phoenix, and nothing ever will be, of course.  No deal has been reached with anyone to do anything other than make gobs of profit right where they are, reality be damned.  (Reality being that bit where a sports team loses $300 million in less than 15 years.)  And if you think attendance figures are what matter, don't forget that the Coyotes are selling tickets for somewhat less than the league average... By $15 less per seat at the start of the year, and by up to $30 less as the season progressed.

Ah, the smell of success!

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