Sufffice to say, Sherry Bassin is not having a great week. Although, then again, the focus on phenom Connor McDavid being out for more than a month after breaking a bone in his right hand during his hand has shifted attention and Internet hockey chatter away from a development that might have a much longer lasting impact on Bassin's Erie Otters franchise.
Not so long ago, from about 2009-12 B.C. (Before Connor), there was strong speculation that the Otters would be sold and/or moved to an Ontario city. Now the Edmonton Oilers, through a subsidary that was established in order to run an Ontario Hockey League team, is suing Bassin for $4.5 million US over what it alleges was an unpaid loan given on the condition that it would buy the Otters and moved the team to Hamilton, where it would have played at Copps Coliseum (now known by another name).
The Otters currently have a lease at Erie Insurance Arena through 2019.
From Ed Palattella:
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Erie, claims the owner, Sherry Bassin, failed to carry out a 2011 deal to sell the Otters to a subsidiary of the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers, which would have moved the team to Hamilton, Ontario.
The Oilers would have paid Bassin at least $6.9 million had the deal gone through, according to court records.
The Oilers' subsidiary, Ontario Major Junior Hockey Corp., is claiming it loaned Bassin $4.2 million in advance of the sale, but that Bassin never completed his part of the deal, including getting the Ontario Hockey League's approval.
Bassin, according to the suit, failed to repay the money on his own and failed to sell the team to another group -- a sale that would have given him the capital to repay the Oilers, according to court records. The suit said the deadline for that sale was Dec. 26, 2013. (Erie Times-News)
(Major junior hockey must be a lucrative business if the Edmonton Oilers are interested in owning a second team in addition to the Western League's Edmonton Oil Kings, but that is neither here nor there.)
It goes without saying the facts have not been proven in court. Meantime, the 75-year-old Bassin has always been upfront about his general notion to cash out by selling the Otters, while revealing little when it comes to (a) to whom and (b) whether it alters the team's future in Erie.
The Times-News notes the team "would have to pay the Erie County Convention Center Authority $76,000 to $50,000 to break the lease, depending on what year it occurred." That seems like a sum that a well-heeled buyer wouldn't blink at paying, especially if it's a NHL organization.
Since the deadline reference in the suit passed, the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs have signed a lease to play at Copps through 2017. This soap opera/legal tussle could still by going on by that point.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.