The NHL has long argued hockey can thrive in Arizona and gone to extreme lengths to block Jim Balsillie from relocating the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, but its own bid for the team contains a provision to move the bankrupt club.

The NHL said it will conduct “an organized bid process to relocate the franchise in another territory” if a buyer wishing to keep the team in Phoenix can’t be found, according to the bid made public yesterday.

The NHL’s offer for the financially bleeding franchise is worth up to $140 million (all figures U.S.), but the league plans only to manage the team until it can be sold to an acceptable third party.

“By acquiring the team at this time,” the league stated in its bid, “the NHL will be able to salvage the team’s 2009-10 season and can establish a more constructive timetable in which to solicit offers from qualified parties.”

The NHL, Balsillie’s PSE Sports and Ice Edge Holdings, composed of Canadian and American investors, are the three groups contending for the team.

Balsillie has offered $212.5 million, contingent on immediately moving the club to Hamilton.

The Ice Edge bid, for up to $150 million, would keep the team in Phoenix long term but the group would like to play five “home” games in Saskatoon each year to increase cash flow.

A bankruptcy auction will be held Sept. 10.

Bid details

PSE Sports

• $212.5M
• Bid contingent on being able to move team to Hamilton.
• Has 32-year lease option with Copps Coliseum; wants team there this year.
• Head Jim Balsillie rejected as owner by NHL and yet to be approved as bidder in bankruptcy court.

Ice Edge Holdings

• $150M
• Would keep team in Arizona with commitment to grow hockey in southwest U.S.
• Not seeking subsidies, but partnership with Glendale arena where Coyotes play.
• Still hope to play five Coyotes “home” games at Saskatoon to subsidize team in Phoenix.

• $140M
• Wants to salvage 2009-10 season in Phoenix, but will eventually sell to third party.
• Willing to eventually relocate team if suitable local buyer cannot be found.
• Would satisfy indebtedness to major creditor, SOF Investments, a value of $80 million but no money for previous owner Jerry Moyes.

Latest From ...