"I think I did my part," Moyes said of his efforts to make hockey work in the desert. "I put plenty of money in it, I put a lot of time in it. I gave it the best try I could. Hockey will not work in the South. Mr. Bettman's plan is not working out."
Asked how he felt about the NHL, Moyes said, "I feel pretty poorly, to be right honest with you. I just don't think I've been treated right. I gave it 100 percent try and I feel betrayed by the NHL."
Thirteen years after the Winnipeg Jets franchise moved to Arizona, just one of nine expansions or relocations into warm weather American cities in a eight-year period between 1991 and 1999, Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes has offered the most damning opinion of the period we've ever had from an NHL owner.
And given what he's been through the past few years, it's no wonder he has such faint praise for his role in the movement.
But before I get into the details of what happened yesterday, I will offer this much of a defence of the league here: Eighteen years after the Sharks landed in San Jose and started this recent migration all off, this is the first bankruptcy of one of those nine teams. For all the turmoil and hand-wringing from here in Canada, this is – by far – as bad as it's ever been and as close as we've come to seeing a sunbelt franchise return to the north.
And it's still likely not all that close to happening.
With NHL training camps set to open, Judge Redfield T. Baum is now solely in control of this team's fate, something that will be determined within the next couple of weeks. Following the proceedings on Twitter the past two days, I don't get the sense that Jim Balsillie's made any real progress toward swaying the judge in his favour and bringing about a precedent-setting decision, and the smart money's on the league gaining control of the team in the near term.
What happens after that, however, is quite unclear.
Moyes, who has been trying to sell this team for years now, offered these thoughts on the future of the franchise: "With or without a $25-million [annual] subsidy from Glendale, which I don’t think [the city] can do, this team just is not going to be here."
Now that – for reasons well documented here and elsewhere all summer – rings true. How the NHL can possibly find another sucker to take on this franchise with out some guarantee that the losses won't continue to mount, I haven't the foggiest, and the most likely scenario a year from now is tales from training camp of whatever strange new market the league's decided to land this troubled team in. (Glendale's "enthusiastic" support for the NHL's bid makes me wonder if they are also as gleefully supporting the out clause the league's jammed into it.)
It's going to take a whole lot of work to save this team as is and where it is, especially once the season starts and the fact the already incredible losses have grown becomes apparent.
"You’ve got Phoenix, you’ve got Dallas, you’ve got Atlanta, you’ve got Tampa Bay all in trouble," Moyes added yesterday. "These teams have got to go north where everybody loves hockey."
For many here in Canada, the soon-to-be former owner of the Coyotes is preaching to the choir, reaffirming what so many column inches and television bits have been dedicated to saying over the years. Polls and comment boards in this country are all still overwhelmingly behind Balsillie's quest, whatever its flaws, and I expect there will be plenty of outrage online once a decision comes down.
I think if we've learned anything over the past four months it's that the NHL's prepared to fight Balsillie till the bitter end, and it's hard to shake the feeling that, no matter what happens in Phoenix this season, this isn't it.
Just another battle in the war.