May 14, 2009

Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie says there is an inescapable fact concerning the Phoenix Coyotes: They are bankrupt, no matter who owns or controls them.

The NHL filed motions in an Arizona bankruptcy court Wednesday. The league contends Balsillie's attempt to buy the Coyotes out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and move the team to Hamilton is a "sham."

"Who owns or controls the team is a distinction without a difference," Balsillie said in a statement Thursday. "The team itself is still bankrupt, voluntarily or not. The owner of the team has a fiduciary obligation towards the creditors."

The NHL says Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes gave up the right to place the team into bankruptcy when he received financing from the league last year.

Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, has twice tried and failed to buy an NHL team (Pittsburgh and Nashville) and move it to southern Ontario.

He has offered more than $212 million for the Coyotes. The parties will be in court for a bankruptcy hearing Tuesday.

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