Winnipeg’s gain could also mean victory for proponents of an American Hockey League team in Thunder Bay.
Several reports emerged Thursday evening suggesting the NHL’s deal with sports mogul Jerry Reinsdorf to buy the financially struggling Phoenix Coyotes was on the brink of collapse.
The Canadian Press reports that the City of Glendale, Ariz. has reopened negotiations with Ice Edge Holdings Inc., just weeks after rejecting a long-term lease from the group to keep the team at Jobing.com Arena.
According to the Winnipeg Sun, Ice Edge, headed by Thunder Bay entrepreneurs Anthony LeBlanc and Keith McCullough, is waiting for Glendale officials to agree to a number of conditions before signing a lease.
Meanwhile ESPN’s Scott Burnside is reporting that Glendale city council will file the necessary papers on Friday morning to accept the Ice Edge lease proposal, a deal it rejected by a 5-1 margin on April 14.
The paper goes on to say if those terms aren’t met and a deal can’t be negotiated to keep the team in the Phoenix suburb, the league will hastily agree to sell the team to Winnipeg billionaire David Thomson, co-owner of True North, which owns the MTS Centre in the Manitoba capital.
Thomson would then move the Coyotes back to Winnipeg, a city the team abandoned in 1996 for Phoenix, where the franchise has lost more than US$300 million.
If that happens Burnside says Thomson would then flip the AHL’s Manitoba Moose to Ice Edge, which in turn would move the Canucks farm team to Thunder Bay.
The Canadian Press reports that a source close to Ice Edge told the Arizona Republic that the group was approached by Glendale in the past week, but an agreement had not been reached.
Reached via email on Friday morning, LeBlanc had little to say.
"At this time, Ice Edge has no further comment," he said.