Gary Bettman may just be a genius.
Yeah, that's not the "cool" thing to say about the head man of the NHL, or of any commissioner of a major sports league, these days, but how things are shaking out with the Arizona Coyotes is showing that he's got it all under control.
Look back on how things shook out in the exhaustive and annoying process of selling the Coyotes.
Numerous parties had interest in the team and, with a lot of help from Glendale City Council, they were able to buy time until Anthony LeBlanc and George Gosbee's IceArizona group stepped up to save the franchise and keep the Coyotes in the desert last year.
It came out of nowhere this week that one-time wannabe Islanders buyer Andrew Barroway is seeking to purchase 51 percent of the Coyotes, which would make him the majority owner. The Coyotes confirmed they're in talks with a "potential investor interested in joining the partnership."
The curious part of the Post's report was that the team lost $24 million last season. If you'll recall, IceArizona has an out-clause that allows them to relocate from Glendale if they've lost $50 million or more after five seasons. The revelation about losses makes the timing of Barroway's interest in buying into the team part of what makes this whole situation brilliant from Bettman's perspective.
Barroway had filed a $10 million lawsuit against Islanders owner Charles Wang for backing out of a verbal agreement to sell the Isles to him. Key word there: Had.
Andrew Barroway has dropped his lawsuit against Charles Wang, according to court filing.— Jim Baumbach (@jimbaumbach) October 3, 2014
The Post reported that one way Barroway would be able to buy into the Coyotes would be to drop his lawsuit against Wang. Done and done.
So Bettman has helped the Coyotes by getting them a new investor with money to burn and helped another owner out by getting a potential future owner to drop a lawsuit against someone he may be part of the Board of Governors with soon enough.
As with all things Coyotes, there's another potential piece to this and make sure to have your speculator hat on for this:
Having Andrew Barroway in Arizona gives the league a potential "bad guy" should things continue to go poorly when it comes to revenue. While LeBlanc and Gosbee have been the exact heroes they've needed in Glendale, Barroway is the outsider and if he's paying a ton of money to be the majority owner, that makes him the boss.
Coincidentally enough, billionaire Chris Hansen is submitting new proposals for a downtown arena in early Jan. 2015, according to KING-5 in Seattle. Had LeBlanc and Gosbee not saved the Coyotes in 2013, the team would be toughing it out in Key Arena in Seattle right now and those arena discussions would be important for another reason entirely.
Now it may just a curious coincidence that those talks are firing up again while all this is going on with the Coyotes all over again, or it may not be coincidence at all.
One way or another, everything is squared away and it's thanks to Bettman. Either the Coyotes will be awash in more cash thanks to a new deep-pocketed executive or they'll be set to find a new home in four years with an outsider at the helm ready to wear the black hat and take the franchise out of the desert.