The NHL was ultimately successful in its battle with former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes over the location of the franchise – the former kept it in Arizona, while the latter was prepared to have it sold and relocated to Hamilton, Ont. – but a new legal ruling is a significant setback in the league's efforts to collect more than $145 million in punitive damages from the trucking magnate.
Judge Redfield T. Baum, the same U.S. bankruptcy judge who presided over the showdown between the NHL and Moyes in 2009, endorsed Wednesday a 2013 ruling that Moyes does not have to pay the league $145.9 million in damages, nor must he fork over approximately $11.6 million worth of claims the NHL has since paid to the team's creditors, or the NHL's legal fees.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN that the league hasn't decided whether or not to appeal the case, which will be decided by an American district court (that will use Baum's recommendation before ruling) in the coming months.
"The matters Baum ruled on will be dealt with on a de novo basis by the district court," Daly told TSN in an email. "Let's get past that phase before we need to determine whether further appeals are necessary."
Moyes took over ownership of the franchise and its arena in 2006, but just two years later, informed the NHL he couldn't handle the enormous losses (pegged at more than $50 million a season) and tried to sell it to Blackberry co-founder Jim Balsillie, who made clear his intent on moving the organization to Hamilton. When the league demanded Moyes stop negotiating with Balsillie, Moyes filed for bankruptcy and then tried to sell the team to Balsillie. However, after an extended legal battle, the NHL emerged victorious and bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy protection for $140 million in November of 2009.