Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Out of the den not so much with a growl, but a whimper

The long tortured saga of the Phoenix Coyotes continues on in the desert, with the latest installment featuring the always entertaining bastion of the desperate, a scolding, scowling press conference, one which offered little in the way of clarification of the situation and more of a finger wagging session at the new protagonist on the Coyote trail.

Commissioner Gary Bettman arrived in the desert on Tuesday to survey the burning landscape of his Phoenix dreams, taking to the podium to offer up some half hearted throw down to the Goldwater Institute.

A strange little press conference, where the Commish offered up that at sometime in the future the league may have to pursue other alternatives, if Charlie Sheen had been in the audience he might have offered up some succinct commentary on the whole Coyote situation for Mr. Bettman, something along the lines of "duh, so Not Winning".


The tone and timbre of the Commissioners address has been the topic of much dis-section over the last twelve hours or so, described in some quarters as offering up a presence that was weak and beaten.

And when you view the conference from the podium, it does seem that the Commissioner arrived with little to do other than perhaps pick up some good competitive quotes from moving companies.

Much of the latest drama has caught the attention of fans back in the old stomping ground of the Coyote franchise, up in still chilly Manitoba fans apparently were watching the Internet stream with great interest, at least until the picture and audio crashed, symbolic it would seem of the many times in the past that Winnipeg fans have had their hopes raised, only to be vanquished just as quickly.

We're not sure if that stream crashed before the Commissioner gave his shout out to the Peg, advising that he didn't want to discuss potential franchise moves at this time (though he did suggest that the league had other options, plural that would be, though he wouldn't discuss them at this time).

Then he delved into the aspect of the "obstructionist" Goldwater Institute and their agenda as he sees things. Where just the threat of a lawsuit has brought down the latest financial plan to keep the Coyotes comfortable in their Arizona den.

As is the case whenever the Commissioner faces a posse from the press, things get a little testy pretty quick, leaving one wonder if he really means it when he says "I'm ready to take questions".

There is perhaps no better example of this than at the 13 minute mark of the video above, where Mr. Bettman seems to show his frustration with the current state of the situation, and again it's a reporter asking a question which always seems to bring out the smirk.

Things get a little uncomfortable on the podium as the Commissioner snaps a snarky response to a reporter asking about any potential future conversations with the Goldwater Institute, an evolution of discussion which it would seem Mr. Bettman would rather do in private than in a public setting.

It's most likely a good move for self preservation that, as a public session would be something that the Goldwater Institute would no doubt relish.  Offering up even more attention to its goals of fiscal purity, though for the NHL the seismic shockwaves of full disclosure of the Phoenix situation would probably rattle clear across the southern footprint that the league has tried to establish over the last twenty years or so.

Earlier in the press conference, Mr. Bettman was asked why he was in Phoenix, his reply "to provide an update as to where things stand".

We're not sure that he fully accomplished that goal, we seem no further informed as to the future of the Coyotes and it certainly doesn't appear that the NHL has any real blue print for a way out of the current stalemate, other than stamping its foot and snapping at anyone who dares to ask a few important questions.

As always the Globe and Mail's Stephen Brunt provides a worthy review of the current situation, his final line of the article perhaps the best epitaph for what has been going on in Phoenix for the last few years.

But the whole thing, the whole process just doesn't seem very big league, does it?

His article and a few others outlining these dog days of the desert dogs can be found below.

Globe and Mail-- Bettman has no Plan B for Phoenix
Globe and Mail-- Bettman accuses think tank of 'game-playing'
Globe and Mail-- Matthew Hulsizer running out of patience with Coyotes
National Post-- Bettman stands firm as Coyote saga nears conclusion
Arizona Republic-- NHL Chief berates Goldwater Institute over Phoenix Coyotes deal
Arizona Republic-- Goldwater assails lawsuit threat over Phoenix Coyote probe
MSNBC-- Gary Bettman blames threat of lawsuit for lack of Coyotes sale, admits time is running out
Vancouver Sun-- Futility is in the eye of the beholder
Yahoo Sports-- Gary Bettman talks (and talks and talks) about Coyotes' fate
Winnipeg Free Press-- Bettman admits Coyotes deal out of his hands
Winnipeg Free Press-- Coyotes deal at a stalemate
Winnipeg Free Press-- Death watch
Winnipeg Sun-- Coyotes last stand

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