Amid the ballyhoo of the N.H.L.'s real season is a legal battle coming to a head in Phoenix.A bankruptcy judge has sent the owner of the Coyotes and the N.H.L. to mediation to discern who is in control of the franchise.The owner is eager to sell to Blackberry billionaire Jim Basillie, who would promptly airlift the team to the backwater of Hamilton, Ontario, a medium sized city in the middle of a vast hockey-crazed demographic, the mention of which to commish Gary Bettman being akin to belching in his face after consuming a rancid taco.Bettman would prefer the team remain on life support in Phoenix, presumably until the depression lifts and he is able to sell an expansion team at twice the price to Basillie or others to place anywhere but Hamilton.But Basillie is shooting Snake River Canyon, even refusing to be disuaded by the leagues quaint 50 mile radius territorial rights bylaw, which Basillie believes would not stand up to anti-trust legislation.Of course Toronto, home of the Maple Leafs and the largest collection of rubes on the continent, would not be amused and are surely squawking in a pool of tears behind closed doors.If mediation doesn't solve it, the judge will, and if the team is sold and moves to Canada, Gary Bettman's head will explode.
Harold Ballard is spinning in his crypt.
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