That's part of our relocation application — the arena's ready to go, pretty much. It will be ready to go for the first game of the regular season, without a doubt. ... I'm optimistic that the team will be playing in Hamilton in October.
I rapped the NHL on the nose a little bit for continuing to espouse confidence yesterday after a potential setback in these proceedings, but now I suppose it's the Balsillie camp's turn.
There is no way on earth the Coyotes are being sold to Balsillie in mid-September and then dropping the puck on a season in Hamilton three weeks later. That's bananas. Goofy.
Heck, just look at the 2009-10 schedule for Phoenix and the teams coming in and out of Glendale. Imagine you're running the travel arrangements for a club like the Stars, who are supposed to play in nearby Arizona three times this season and who have an already difficult three games in four days stretch that would go from "Glendale - Dallas - Detroit" to "Hamilton - Dallas - Detroit" in late November.
Or the logistics of trucking the entire Pacific Division across North America for 30 per cent of next season. (That's assuming a last minute division and/or conference realignment is out of the question.)
Never mind the building availability issues that could potentially come up as a result of tweaks needed to the old schedule. And forget the fact the poor, forgotten Hamilton Bulldogs are already all scheduled into a decidedly less glamorous version of Copps Coliseum than the one pictured above.
I can't fathom why the strategy is being touted as so, but Rodier's the bankruptcy expert here, so we'll have to give him the benefit of the doubt that a slapdash move this fall — or the appearance of wanting one — is in the Balsillie camp's best interest.
The fewer delays the better, I suppose, in a perfect world.
(As an aside, I'm beginning to get the feeling that Rodier always had a scenario like this in mind in terms of being able to land an NHL team against the league's wishes, and I wonder if that preparedness has helped their cause. It certainly couldn't have hurt.)
If Balsillie somehow wins the bidding process on Sept. 10, however, where this is all headed is to an appeal by the NHL — along with whatever other slow downs the league can apply to ensure it doesn't have to bend over backwards to accommodate anything but a potentially lame duck season in Phoenix. There's still a relocation fee to negotiate, so maybe that's a hurdle, and what of any penalty for breaking the lease agreement in Glendale?
Maybe, as a last resort, the NHL has to pony up the money for the franchise to keep it in limbo another year? Or, perhaps, as part of his deal, RIM Jim gets tagged with the losses during what is truly going to be an awful campaign for hockey in the desert.
No matter what happens, and whether or not anyone's there to watch, we all know there'll be hockey at Jobing.com Arena come October. It's what happens after that point that's in question.