PHOENIX — Judge Redfield T. Baum threw out the possibility again Friday that he might reject both bids for the beleaguered Phoenix Coyotes and simply have no sale.
Early in the day’s proceedings, Baum said that a potential purchaser must satisfy several legal benchmarks.
“If you don’t both get there, it’s going to be hard to approve it,” he said.
Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has offered to buy the team for some US$242.5 million, contingent on moving it to Hamilton, over the objection of the NHL.
Friday’s hearing began with Balsillie lawyer Jeffrey Kessler presenting his case for why the judge should rule to relocate the team. He cited experts from both sides when saying that it was clear the team would be more successful in Hamilton.
Kessler urged the judge to make a ruling, saying that he has the “power and responsibility” to do so — something Baum hasn’t seemed entirely convinced of so far.
NHL lawyer Tony Clark questioned whether Balsillie has the right to be an owner and made light of the fact his legal team has made references to a “secret conspiracy” with the Toronto Maple Leafs to keep a team out of Hamilton.
For the second straight day, Baum hinted about what might come during a seemingly innocuous exchange with one of the lawyers.
While noting that he’d yet to rule on whether Balsillie can participate in the auction or whether the team can be moved in conjunction with the sale, he served notice that there is just one decision coming after the auction.
“There’s going to be one ruling here,” said Baum.
Both Balsillie and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman are in the courtroom.
Bettman is expected to take the stand later in the day.