Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Clock is ticking on Phoenix, other NHL notes; Backstrom, Brunette pay tribute to agent Don Baizley

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: June 27, 2013 - 6:40 PM
The clock is ticking yet again on the Phoenix Coyotes.
 
Commissioner Gary Bettman said after today’s Board of Governors meeting at the Westin Times Square that if the city of Glendale doesn’t approve a lease agreement to the potential Renaissance group Tuesday “so this transaction can close, I don't think the Coyotes will be playing there anymore.”
 
“That’s an essential agreement to this moving forward,” Bettman said.
 
In other words, relocation options are the alternatives immediately. The league needs to resolve this to determine where Phoenix is playing next season. The likeliest option appears to be Seattle.
 
“We have lots of options,” Bettman said. “I find it difficult to conceive of why if the council turns this down we would want to keep the team in Glendale any longer.”
 
I will be back later with Wild-centric blog, but here are some other Board of Governors notes as well as tributes to agent Don Baizley, who died this morning.
 
-- The NHL has a meeting with the International Olympic Committee on Monday, so we should know soon whether the NHL is partaking in February’s Winter Olympics. They will be.
 
-- Because the Olympics aren’t finalized the Phoenix situation isn’t resolved, the NHL schedule won’t be released until next month. There are a number of drafts for schedules for different contingencies. Daly said “regardless of what we do,” next year’s realignment will stay the same – 16 teams in the East, 14 in the West. In other words, if by chance Phoenix moved East, it would stay with the Western teams. The names of the divisions will be announced next month. Remember, the Wild’s going in with Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.
 
-- Daly said there’s no issue whatsoever with Key Arena in Seattle hosting NHL hockey. “But there are a number of alternatives and we have to decide what’s best for us in the short-term.”
 
-- On potential rule changes like goalie equipment, mandatory visors, video replays on 4-minute high-sticks, shootout spin-o-ramas, testing hybrid icing and shallower nets in the preseason, the NHLPA still needs to approve it, so they weren’t enacted. Daly said the language needs to be completely written and that there have been specific changes recommended by the competition committee. “Our members signed off. My understanding is their members still need to get to it. So a couple things need to be done.” Daly said the rulebook needs to go to print by the end of July, so that’s the deadline. Basically, the NHL’s awaiting for the PA.
 
-- In new that has saddened the entire hockey world today, the universally liked and respected player agent Don Baizley, one of the classiest men in the business, died this morning after a long bout with cancer. He was 71. His clients included Mikko Koivu, Niklas Backstrom and Andrew Brunette, as well as Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya and many others. There was never a time Baizley didn’t return a call or email, yet he rarely divulged much. He never negotiated through the media but always showed you the respect to call you back. He was all about his clients. Honest, classy, friendly always. Based in Winnipeg, we used to see him a lot in Minnesota. He will be missed.
 
Backstrom said, “Such a sad day. He was such a great man. He was a great agent if not the best. But I never saw him as my agent. He was a great friend, mentor, role model. He was always right no matter what the subject was. It was never about him -- not even the last time we spoke, and I have never met or heard of a person who is so respected that Don is.
 
“I would not be where I am without him. Just hearing his name mentioned brings a smile on my face because I remember all the great stories he had, all the advice he gave me and the way he taught me about life and hockey.
 
“It’s hard to compare someone in hockey to what Gretzky and all the other Hall of Famers have done for the game, but I feel he has done a lot and in my mind is up there with them.”
 
Brunette said: “I’m deeply saddened. Don only represented me for a couple of years, but if this is even possible, he totally exceeded his highly thought of reputation as an agent but more importantly as a person. His genius was the ability to always convey a message that made complete sense. His honesty and integrity in a business that a lot of times lack those attributes was what made him so special. Every time you either spoke on the phone or saw him in person, things always seemed so clear and you always felt better afterwards.”

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