Tuesday, June 23, 2009

While NHL tries to fix Coyotes franchise, the Lightning are about to blow

Bad news for Gary Balsillie yesterday in Phoenix - the bankruptcy court will be holding an auction in August for parties interested in keeping the team in Phoenix. Only if that process is unsuccessful will an auction be held for parties wishing to relocate the team. Word out is that Jerry Reinsdorf will be submitting a bid. So unless it is an absurd low ball offer, he has the team.

So while the NHL has been burning up dollars to keep the Coyotes alive, the Tampa Bay Lightning are falling apart. A year ago new owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules were the talk of the NHL with their numerous trades and free agent signings. Today they aren't even talking to each other. The split is destroying the team. It seems Koules wants to likes GM Brian Lawton, wants to trade Vincent Lecavalier to get out from under his $85 million contract and wants to pare the payroll to the low $40 million range. Meanwhile Barrie has different ideas. He would like to get rid of Lawton, thinks the team should build around Lecavalier and is in favor of signing free agents to get the payroll closer to $50 million. These aren't minor differences with the free agent season beginning in one week and Lcavalier's no trade contract kicks in.

If you thought it was bad when Dan Boyle called them liars, or John Tortorella described them as cowboys or Barry Melrose accused them of being meddlers, then this is worse.

Ticket sales have been awful and they are bleeding money big time. Supposedly they are meeting with Gary Bettman to try to iron out their differences. At this point the ideal situation would be for at least one of the owners to sell off his share of the team. Otherwise this could be the next franchise to go bankrupt - calling Jim Balsillie!