Others have already pointed out that in a Chapter 11 proceeding, the court typically makes its ruling based on what's best for the creditor(s). In other words, it would go beyond the NHL's the court says what's best is for the Phoenix Coyotes to be sold to this group which will only buy on the condition it can relocate the team. You can imagine the legal wheels spinning.
The chain of events, you know about: Balsillie sounded off about buying the Coyotes and assuming the franchise's debt as long as he can move it into Southern Ontario. Within 25 minutes of Balsillie putting out his press release, a second one went out saying the Coyotes have filed for Chapter 11 reorganization, which "include(s) a proposed sale of the franchise to PSE Sports & Entertainment, LP, a Delaware limited partnership ... which would move the franchise to southern Ontario, Canada."
Sure, it would have be a frosty Friday in July before MLSE would give up its turf in Toronto, but that bridge won't have to be crossed for a while. There might be very little that Bettman or the Leafs could do to stop it. A settlement with some compensation for territorial rights seems fairly plausible.
Puck Daddy believes it will happen:
"So the franchise that relocated from Winnipeg in 1996 appears on the brink of moving back to Canada. The near-fanatic obsession of the Canadian media with the failure of this franchise — fueled by a desire to 'get one back' from the States, or to see Wayne Gretzky coaching a Canadian team, or both — appears to have been warranted."Here's what Balsillie said:
"The current team ownership asked that I table an offer to purchase the Coyotes and significant discussions resulted in an offer that is in the best interests of the franchise, the NHL, and the great hockey fans of Canada and Southern Ontario.
"... I am excited to move closer to bringing an NHL franchise to what I believe is one of the best un-served hockey markets in the world, Southern Ontario. A market with devoted hockey fans, a rich hockey history, a growing and diversified economy and a population of more than 7 million people." — via press release
It can be conceded that people are probably getting Balsillie fatigue at this point and don't want to hear about it until he either does succeed in repatriating a franchise from the U.S. Sunbelt or gives up. Your guess is as good as any as to which is more likely.
Chicago Bulls/White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is also rumoured be kicking the tires with the Coyotes. The players' association has a vested interest in seeing a second team put in Southern Ontario. It wouldn't hurt the Toronto Maple Leafs one bit. The competition would be good for both sides.
Who knows if Jim Balsillie will succeed, but you have to admire his chutzpah. The NHL might not like the way he carries himself, but money-wise he's good for it as far as anyone knows, unlike some of the folks the NHL has welcomed into the owners' ranks. He's wanted a NHL team he can move to Southern Ontario (did you notice he never said he was interesting in buying the Montreal Canadiens?)
According to blogTO, more than 2,000 people signed up at makeitseven.ca within 100 minutes of its launch.
The NHL is going to make this very hard for Balsillie and pull out every stop. Keep that in mind.
Balsillie Makes Offer To Purchase Phoenix Coyotes (Canada NewsWire)