Hockey’s Great One could soon be standing behind the bench at the Halifax Metro Centre.
Scott Ferguson of Trade Centre Ltd. confirmed yesterday that Halifax is one of two Canadian cities being considered to host head coach Wayne Gretzky and his Phoenix Coyotes for five regular season games as part of a planned bid for the bankrupt National Hockey League team.
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Ferguson said discussions with Toronto-based bidder Ice Edge Holdings started a couple of weeks ago. The investment group is proposing to keep the Coyotes in Arizona for the most part, while bringing a handful of home games to a city north of the border, an idea Ferguson called “quite ingenious.”
He said both Halifax and Saskatoon are “strong hockey markets” that don’t pose any real threat to franchise movement.
“If they’re successful, then we might see some games in either of those cities.”
But The Globe and Mail reported that Ice Edge is favouring Saskatoon over Halifax, adding the group will present its “grassroots Canadian hockey strategy” to NHL executives tomorrow.
Ice Edge Holdings filed a last-minute letter of intent to bid US$150 million in Phoenix bankruptcy court last Friday, according to the official Coyotes website. The Canadian group is up against Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who has submitted a US$148-million bid, and Research In Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie, who still wants to bring the Coyotes to Hamilton for $212.5 million.
Halifax Mooseheads majority owner Bobby Smith said yesterday it would be great for local fans to see regular season NHL “in the heart of the hockey season.”
Smith, who served as general manager of the Coyotes in the late 90's and still holds season tickets, said choosing either Halifax or Saskatoon as the host Canadian city would probably depend on scheduling logistics.
“It’s certainly an interesting idea,” he said.