Bankruptcy judge speeds up Phoenix Coyotes relocation fight schedule

A U.S. bankruptcy judge has accelerated the schedule for determining whether Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie can buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the franchise to southern Ontario over the objection of the NHL.

PHOENIX — A U.S. bankruptcy judge has accelerated the schedule for determining whether Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie can buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the franchise to southern Ontario over the objection of the NHL.

At a hearing Wednesday, judge Redfield Baum called the relocation issue “the 10,000-pound elephant in the room” and said it needed to be resolved quickly.

He set a hearing for June 9 and promised a ruling shortly thereafter. All briefs and declarations must be submitted by June 5. The relocation hearing had been scheduled for June 22, but Balsillie has said he will withdraw his US$212.5-million offer if the sale is not completed by the end of June.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says the league will appeal if it loses at the bankruptcy court level.

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