Canceled season creates many questions - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Canceled season creates many questions

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Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2005 11:18 am | Updated: 8:58 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q:What happens to Coyotes season ticket holders and the money they put in?A: The Coyotes will be mailing refund/reallocate information to full and partial season ticket holders within a week.

Ticket holders will have their choice between a complete refund and several incentive plans — including the issuing of "Coyote Bucks’’ that are good for concessions and souvenirs at Glendale Arena once play resumes. If ticket holders choose, their deposits and/or payments can roll over into the 2005-06 season.

Q:How does it affect the Coyotes current roster?

A: The Coyotes have 19 NHL players already under contract for the 2005-06 season with a total payroll of about $31 million: goalie Brent Johnson, defensemen Sean O’Donnell, Denis Gauthier, Cale Hulse, David Tanabe and forwards Jason Chimera, Mike Comrie, Boyd Devereaux, Shane Doan, Brett Hull, Mike Johnson, Krys Kolanos, Ladislav Nagy, Tyson Nash, Peter Nedved, Mike Ricci, Mike Rupp, Brian Savage and Oleg Saprykin.

The contracts of goalie Brian Boucher, defensemen Brad Ference, Paul Mara and Derek Morris, and forwards Andrei Nazarov and Daniel Cleary will expire on July 30. All are restricted free agents.

Q:What happens to guys whose contracts expire this year or have signed one-year deals?

A: Those players are now free agents — either restricted (under 31) — or unrestricted under the terms of the previous collective bargaining agreement.

Q:How does it affect the 2006 All-Star Game, scheduled for Glendale Arena next February?

A: The game is now definitely in peril. The NHL cancelled the 2005 All-Star Game in Atlanta on Nov. 3 of last year, meaning the time clock on the Glendale game is about nine months from today.

If the lockout continues and the game is cancelled, the earliest an All-Star Game could return to Glendale is the 2008-09 season. The 2006-07 game is scheduled for Dallas and Atlanta will be awarded the game it lost in 2007-08.

Q:How does it affect Glendale Arena?

A: The arena is owned by the city of Glendale, and the loss of 50-plus preseason, regular season and playoff hockey games definitely hurts its ability to recapture the sales tax that will be used to pay off the building.

City planners anticipated a possible lockout when negotiating their 30-year lease with the Coyotes. The lost year automatically rolls over to the end of the lease, which now will last 31 years. And the city gets a bigger percentage of revenue from concerts and non-sporting events, which will now dominate the calendar for the next seven months.

Q:Is contraction possible? Is Phoenix on that hit-list?

A: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it very clear Wednesday that contraction is not an issue and the NHL intends to remain a 30-team league and will only make a deal that is in the best interests of all its members.

If the league were to revisit that issue down the road and contract to, say, a 24-team league, southern teams with small fan bases such as Nashville, Florida, Carolina and yes, even the Coyotes, could be among the teams under the microscope.

Q:How long will this impasse last? Next season?

A: At this point, Bettman said the NHL will continue to negotiate in good faith with the union. But he also left open the possibility that a legal impasse could be declared and that the league could opt to operate under a new system with replacement players.

Q:How does this affect the Coyotes in the Valley marketplace with fans?

A: The lockout couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Coyotes. Much of the luster that came with the opening of Glendale Arena last December was tarnished by the woeful product the team put on the ice in the second half of the season. Management spent the summer retooling the franchise into a playoff contender with big-name signings, including Hull, Nedved and Ricci, but that team has not taken the ice and perhaps never will if the lockout continues.

Q:Will there be more layoffs of employees?

A: Coyotes president Doug Moss said the team/arena workforce that was about 140 this time last year is now down to approximately 100. Some of that attrition was due to layoffs made in May, and others from employees who left in the last eight months and were not replaced. Moss said the organization will be reviewing what further steps may be necessary in the near future and sources said the employees are bracing for further layoffs.

Q:Does this affect ownership/ financing?

A: Moss, speaking of behalf of owners Steve Ellman and Jerry Moyes, confirmed that the Coyotes are one of a few NHL teams that have already tapped into the $10 million "war chest’’ required by the league, using it to pay bills and interest on loans Steve Ellman and Jerry Moyes used to buy the team from Richard Burke in 2001. Moss wouldn’t say how much of the $10 million is gone, but it is believed to be less than 20 percent.

But Moss said the Coyotes are healthy financially with the new building and surrounding development and said, "We will be here for the long haul.’’

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