Will the Colorado Avalanche join playoff rival San Jose in the NHL's Pacific Division? A city council meeting Tuesday night in Glendale, AZ could go a long way in deciding that issue.
At issue for the council are the terms that the NHL, which owns the Coyotes, wants in order to operate the team in Glendale. Among those terms is a guarantee that the city of Glendale will cover all losses incurred by the NHL in operating the team in the 2010-11 season.
The NHL bought the Coyotes from bankruptcy in the fall of 2009 and has been trying to find a buyer that will keep the team in Phoenix. There were two groups vying for the team, but both local groups have ended negotiations. If the team stays in Arizona this season, it will be owned and operated by the NHL.
If the City Council does not approve the NHL's requested terms, the most likely scenario sees the Coyotes returning to Winnipeg, where they played from 1979 to 1996. The group that operates Winnipeg's 15,000 seat arena has been working with the NHL to get a franchise and is reported to have the financing in place to make a quick purchase and move the team to Manitoba in time for the 2010-2011 season.
If the Coyotes do relocate to Winnipeg, they would move to the NHL's Northwest Division, where they would fit in with Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and MInnesota. The Colorado Avalanche would move to the Pacific Division, where they would join Dallas, Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose.
Whether the NHL operates the team in Phoenix for another season or allows them to become the league's seventh Canadian franchise, the decision needs to be made quickly. The NHL Entry Draft is little more than a month away and the 2010-11 schedule needs to be set for teams to proceed.