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Monica Lindstrom

Updated Jun 14, 2015 - 8:47 pm

Legally Speaking: How will Glendale prove its claim against the Coyotes?

Free agency starts in the NHL on July 1, just a few short weeks away.

If you were a free agent — with or without a wife and kids — or were looking to get drafted, would you seriously look at the Arizona Coyotes? Would you be willing to take a chance on the team knowing that nothing is certain, that you could be moved to a different city or state at any time?

Knowing the city of Glendale and the Coyote ownership have a incredibly tumultuous past?

Maybe, maybe not. It would probably depend on how bad you needed a job. This uncertainty is one of, if not the biggest, arguments the Arizona Coyotes ownership has in its favor.

On Friday, IceArizona, the ownership of the Coyotes, filed a verified complaint, an application for temporary restraining order and request for evidentiary hearing on preliminary injunction.

Later that afternoon, Judge Bergin held a hearing to address these pleadings. An attorney for the City of Glendale, along with Glendale’s city attorney, appeared on behalf of the city and the Coyotes were represented by a four person legal team along with Anthony LeBlanc.

The Coyotes asked the court to issue an order to keep everything status quo and to stop Glendale from acting on the cancellation of the Professional Management Services and Arena Lease Agreement (“Agreement”) in the short run.

Since a temporary restraining order is just that, temporary, the Coyotes also needed to ask for an injunction that will last throughout the litigation. With an injunction in place the parties can litigate the issues without having to worry that the arena doors would be locked and the Coyotes would have to move. Glendale agreed to the TRO so the Coyotes will be staying put, for now.

The complaint included 6 counts against the city, including breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing. The Coyotes argue in the 18-page complaint that it has been harmed and will continue to be harmed by the actions of the Glendale City Council.

“The City’s failure to comply with the Agreement, including the Council vote of June 10, 2015, has caused, is causing, and will continue to cause substantial and irreparable harm to Plaintiffs in multiple respects that cannot be adequately addressed by damages, including without limitation, the following:

• Harm to Plaintiff’s reputation, brand, and exposure;

• Harm to plaintiff’s goodwill and reputation;

• Harm to the continued viability and stability of the hockey team;

• Harm to the hockey team’s competitive standing within the National Hockey League (“NHL”);

• Harm to the Coyotes’ ability to schedule and promote home games of the 2015-1016 NHL hockey season;

• Harm to the Plaintiff’s ability to maintain and attract fans, players, staff, sponsors, ticket holders, and vendors;

• Interference with events, such as the 2015-2016 NHL Regular Season Schedule, concerts, and other events already scheduled and booked by Plaintiffs;

• Harm to plaintiffs’ relationships with sponsors;

• Harm to plaintiff’s ability to bid to host the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championship; and

• Harm to Plaintiffs’ ability to attract and book new events for the Arena.”

All of this makes complete sense, unlike Glendale’s argument.

To be fair, Glendale has not filed any pleadings or put its argument onto paper for the public to see. However, it did officially admit (in court after being asked by counsel for the Coyotes on the record in front of the Judge) the decision to cancel the contract was based on Arizona Revised Statutes section 38-511 and the hiring of Craig Tindall and Julie Frisoni.

This is a weak argument unless the city can conclusively show that Tindall and/or Frisoni was/were “significantly involved in initiating, negotiating, securing, drafting, or creating the [Agreement] on behalf of [the city]. And, even if it can show that, it would still need to argue it was damaged and why it waited until almost two years into the contract to play this card.

That is a tall order.

Frisoni has publicly stated that she was not involved at all in the negotiating of the agreement and she is appalled Glendale is claiming she was. Tindall was forced to resign two months prior to the negotiation of the agreement and the city waived any conflicts it might have had with Tindall.

Some fans simply say that we should call it what it is, a meager attempt for Glendale to try to force the Coyotes to renegotiate the agreement it no longer likes.

That could be exactly what it is.

Or, for argument’s sake, maybe the Glendale City Council has found itself in a losing financial situation and is looking for anything it can to help the taxpayers of Glendale.

Bottom line: At this point in time, I would rather represent the Coyotes because it appears it is the strongest legal argument. The parties will be back in court to touch bases with the judge on June 25 and the evidentiary hearing will begin July 31.

Considering the draft starts on June 25, harm to the Coyotes, as mentioned above, will continue to accrue and if Glendale loses, it could arguably result in even more harm to the taxpayers than continuing with the agreement.


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