The 2009–10 NHL season ran from October 1, 2009, including four games in Europe on October 2 and 3—until April 11, 2010, with the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs running to June 9, 2010. A mid-season break from February 15 to February 28 occurred to allow participation of NHL players in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Because of the Winter Olympics break, there was no NHL All-Star Game for 2010. The Stanley Cup Final saw the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games, for their first championship since the 1960–61 season.
The salary cap was increased by a small amount for the 2009–10 season. It was set at $56.8 million, $100,000 higher than in the 2008–09 season. The salary floor was $40.8 million.
Main article: 2009 NHL Entry Draft
The Entry Draft was held June 26–27, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. The New York Islanders chose John Tavares with the first overall pick. Other notable picks were Matt Duchene, Victor Hedman, Evander Kane and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Several teams (Calgary, Minnesota, Nashville, Florida and Colorado) debuted new third uniforms this season, while Philadelphia and Edmonton made their third uniform their primary home jersey, and Chicago made the jersey they wore for the previous season's Winter Classic their new alternate. The New Jersey Devils announced plans to play one game (March 17 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the first anniversary of Martin Brodeur's record breaking 552nd win) wearing their 1982–1992 uniforms, albeit transferred onto the league's current RBK Edge jersey template. In addition, NHL officials had new uniforms, which debuted at the 2009 All-Star Game.
Prior to the season, a contract dispute between Versus (the NHL cable carrier for the United States) and satellite television supplier DirecTV blacked out Versus for 14 million satellite subscribers. Versus was restored to DirecTV in March 2010. While negotiations were secret, it was reported by the media that the dispute was over the "slotting" of Versus with other channels. Versus was restored to DirecTV in the same tier of channels as the previous season. Versus President Jamie Davis confirmed that the dispute was necessary to get "the same level of distribution we had prior to be taken off the air".
Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy and sale
Main article: Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy
The Phoenix Coyotes' holding company, Dewey Ranch Hockey LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In a statement, Moyes announced that he had agreed in principle to sell the team to PSE Sports and Entertainment, headed by Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie, for $212.5 million. As part of the deal, Balsillie intended to move the Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontario. Although initial reports said that Balsillie was considering Kitchener as well, Hamilton already has an NHL-sized arena in place, Copps Coliseum, and Balsillie was already in talks with city officials to secure a lease for the arena. Hamilton had previously bid for an NHL team in the 1990s, losing out to Ottawa. Balsillie had previously made unsuccessful approaches to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators, with the intent of relocating either team to Hamilton.
The NHL opposed the bankruptcy and the matter went to Phoenix bankruptcy court. Two other potential bidders for the team emerged, Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox and Ice Edge Holdings. Bankruptcy hearings were held from May until September. Reinsdorf and Ice Edge did not bid for the team, and the NHL put in the only rival bid for the team at court.
In September, a Phoenix bankruptcy court rejected offers from the NHL and Jim Balsillie, ending Balsillie's plan to move the Coyotes to Hamilton. The NHL's offer was rejected because it left out creditors Jerry Moyes and Wayne Gretzky. On Balsillie's offer, Judge Redfield T. Baum refused to sanction the use of bankruptcy to force relocation of a franchise on a league. Gretzky, who was head coach of the team for the previous four seasons, stayed away from training camp and was replaced. The Coyotes played their first home game to a sell-out; however, attendance was lower at other games in the month of October. Later in the month, the NHL and Moyes came to a tentative agreement to transfer ownership of the Coyotes to the NHL.
In December, the NHL announced that Ice Edge Holdings, a partnership of Canadians and Phoenix-area businessmen, had signed a letter of intent with the NHL to purchase the Coyotes. Ice Edge, which plans to keep the team in Phoenix, plans to play five Coyotes home games in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, each season as part of a five-year plan to return the Coyotes to profitability. Ice Edge would still have to negotiate a lease agreement with the City of Glendale, and have its ownership approved by the NHL Board of Governors.
On March 6, the NHL launched a lawsuit for $61 million against former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes to recover $10 million in bankruptcy court costs, $20 million in losses for 2009–10 and $11.6 million owed to creditors. Three weeks later, the Coyotes clinched their first playoff berth since 2002.
On April 13, Glendale, Arizona City Council approved a lease and sale agreement with Jerry Reinsdorf to take over the Coyotes and their lease of the Jobing.com Arena. The Council rejected the Ice Edge group. The agreement created a special tax district surrounding the arena. Businesses in that district would pay $47 million annually to support the team. The agreement gave Reinsdorf the option to move the team after five years if revenues were not up to expectations. Former Coyotes CEO Jeff Shumway criticized the deal, saying that the team would not have gone bankrupt if the same deal had been available two years earlier. Reinsdorf's bid, which paid the NHL $65 million for the team, needed approval by the league board of governors