By Allan Muir
Yeah, we've heard it all before, so no one's blaming you for rolling your eyes and refusing to glance up from your cereal until you can feel the rumble of the moving trucks pulling up in front of Jobing.com Arena.
That hasn't happened. Not yet. But those trucks might be gassing up right about now.
Some early morning tweets from Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos, combined with word out of Phoenix, paint a picture of the NHL's last-gasp ownership option running up against an insurmountable financial roadblock set up by local government.
This story from the Arizona Republic suggests that while there has been some ground covered in negotiations between the Glendale City Council and prospective buyers Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, there are still serious differences. And given the NHL's absolute deadline of July 2 (a date set to ensure that the league schedule can be released by July 17), "the nuts-and-bolts negotiating must be done by the end of an electronic session scheduled for Friday."
There are still so many balls in the air that it's impossible to say where they'll land. Kypreos suggests that the lack of a proper facility rules out Seattle as an immediate relocation option. I'd tend to agree. I also think Quebec City is out because the market is too valuable as an expansion option (possibly $350 million) to let a team -- even one owned by the league -- slide in there for less than half that.
The signs are pointing to one final lame duck season in Phoenix, where there's at least some quantifiable level of fan engagement, but they still could pull up stakes and find another home. We could know which way the wind is blowing today. Or not. We've all been through this so many times that it's easy to be cynical of deadlines. But this one feels...different. We'll let you know when we know more.