The Phoenix Coyotes are up 2-0 on the Nashville Predators, which means they're a scant 10 wins away from winning the Stanley Cup for their long-suffering owners … the National Hockey League.
Off the ice, the ownership ordeal continues.
The latest bit of somewhat good news: Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal reported on Sunday that "a sale of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey club to an ownership group led by former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison could be approved by the National Hockey League and city of Glendale as early as May 8."
The Glendale City Council could vote on an arena lease deal and financial payments to Jamison's group as early as its May 8 meeting, according to officials familiar with the matter. The city, however, has nothing on its council agenda yet, according to Glendale spokeswoman
The city likely won't announce the details of a Coyotes plan and public vote until Friday if a vote is slated for May 8. The city, NHL and Jamison are working out the Glendale portion of the deal that previously has tripped up other bids for the Coyotes. Glendale City Council members will be briefed again on the Coyotes situation early next week.
But again, there's a caveat: The Goldwater Institute, the watchdog group that derailed Matthew Hulsizer's attempt to purchase the Coyotes last year, hasn't seen any paperwork on the Jamison bid and "promises to scrutinize a Jamison deal." So there's still that hurdle.
As usual, with every ray of sunshine there's an apocalyptic raincloud — could the Coyotes fold?
Cassie Campbell-Pascall of CBC Sports offered the following provocative answer on whether a deep Coyotes playoff run would "save the franchise":
I think it postpones the inevitable. I know the league is happy that the playoffs are on in Phoenix and helping with the bottom line. The league will continue to look at all options that keep the team in Phoenix, but from what I am hearing it is pretty much a done deal that the team will be elsewhere next season.
One option I have heard is to fold the franchise and have an expansion area take the team over for next season. This allows you to get the best price possible back for the team.
In other words: The NHL wouldn't allow for relocation and would instead charge someone — Quebec City, as the best example — an expansion fee? What then becomes of the current Coyotes?
The good news for the Coyotes and their fans is that it may not come to that. Mike Brophy of Sportsnet writes about how the players are putting the sales process out of their minds, and hears good things about a sale:
[One former NHL team executive] isn't writing off the Phoenix franchise. "I have heard a lot of good things about Jamison," he said. "The Tampa Bay franchise was in a similar position and the NHL found a great owner in Jeff Vinik. If the NHL can find somebody who can write checks until they get it turned around in Phoenix, they might be OK. Gary Bettman has done a heck of a job finding people. He found people in Dallas and in Tampa Bay and Buffalo. But this is as challenging as any of them."
As we've said before: It's hard to imagine Bettman walking away from this situation after all the time and treasure the NHL's thrown at it.