With Balsillie out, who’s paying the bills?

Jim Balsillie will not own the Phoenix Coyotes, says bankruptcy judge Redfield T. Baum.

And with the Canadian billionaire out of the running, it begs the question — who’s paying the bills?

Rob Becker, a legal analyst in New York, told Toronto radio station FAN 590 on Wednesday night he believes the NHL will ultimately be signing the cheques.

“The trustees in bankruptcy technically own it until a buyer can be found,” Becker said. “But it looks highly likely that the NHL will own it.”

With the Coyotes set up to play their first game in Los Angeles on Saturday night, they will have plenty of expenses to be paid for soon.

“Somebody’s got to step up to the plate and buy it,” Becker said to the FAN. “I suppose if the NHL says ‘we don’t want to finance it anymore’ they’d have to close it down.

“I find it hard to believe that Bettman would allow that to happen.”

Despite neither side winning the auction, Judge Baum said the NHL, with some adjustments to their payments towards creditors, could wind up with possession of the Coyotes.

Richard Powers, associate dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, believes that the NHL is already in full control.

“The NHL now controls where the team goes, and who owns it,” Powers told Cbcsports.ca . “[Baum] recognized their exclusive right to determine that against all counter-arguments, including anti-trust and competition law issues.”

The league’s bid chooses what creditors it can pay out, leaving both titular owner Jerry Moyes and former coach and minority partner Wayne Gretzky not completely re-paid.

Judge Baum has asked that all creditors be treated equally.

“There has been no determination that the Moyes and Gretzky claims are not ‘legitimate creditors,’” the judge said in his official ruling.

“It would be inherently unjust for this court to deprive them of their possible rightful share of any proceeds without first providing all involved a fair trial on their claims.”

Becker feels that the NHL will eventually agree to those terms.

“If the choice is between doing that [stopping franchise operations] or paying the creditors equally, they’ll pay them equally,” Becker said to the FAN.

“They’ll pay the same amount [$140 million] and just pay it equally to the creditors.”

The door is wide open for the NHL officially own the team, rather than just keeping them afloat day-to-day.

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By: Stephen Sweet
Posted: Sep 30 2009 7:47 pm
Filed under: Hockey Sports