NHL News and Rumors: An Official Arizona Coyotes Relocation Announce Could Be Real Soon

Sportsnet: Elliotte Friedman on the potential Arizona Coyotes relocation announcement Thursday or Friday.

** NHLRumors.com transcription

Ron MacLean: “Time for the Saturday Headlines and Elliot, it’s not really a ton of a surprise, but it’s a ton of surprise the way it happened. Arizona.”

Friedman: “Yeah. So basically the way it sounds right now, Ron, as we sit here tonight is that I think there’s a real desire to announce this on Thursday or Friday. But a desire and the ability to do it are two different things.

The next few days will be critical to either closing it or getting everybody into a position where they’re comfortable enough to do it and legally protected enough to do it, even if it’s not fully closed. But I do think the desire is to try to announce it on Thursday or Friday before the playoffs.

How did we get here? Well, I think if you go back to last May, when the Coyotes lost the Tempe vote for the new arena, they were on the clock. Some players on other teams told me over the last couple of days, that when the NHLPA was doing its fall tour, they were indicating that they believed if the Coyotes didn’t have clarity on their arena situation by January 1st, the team could move.

Now we know there’s gonna be an auction on June 27th. But it was just too long and too uncertain. And about a month ago Gary Bettman and Bill Daly met with the Coyotes ownership and said, look, it’s time you’re going to be allowed to go and pursue the new arena for Coyotes 2.0. But we’re in a position here. We can’t allow this particular iteration of the team to continue any longer and they got to work on this process. And it was about two weeks ago, people say that they knew there was a possibility that this could very well happen.

What does it mean? It means that the league is going to buy the Coyotes for a $1 billion and the current owner Alex Meruelo is going to have a five-year window to prove he can put together a new arena. Go to the land auction, win it, gets shovels in the ground, pay it off, or pay for to win the land, gets shovels in the ground everything that he has to do to prove he can build a new arena. And Morello has said he is determined to do that. So we’ll see how that unfolds.

And then kind of like expansion, the league is going to sell a new team to Utah and owner Ryan Smith, for $1.2 billion. And, you know, the hockey operations are expected to go with that. Utah is apparently indicated that they value continuity, so we’ll see what happens there.

The AHL team I think is still a bit of a question. Meruelo wants the team to play in Mullet Arena. That will allow them to keep the business staff, or a good chunk of it. Right now, however, there’s no affiliation agreement yet between Utah and Arizona. We’ll see what happens there.

And the one thing that’s very obvious here, Ron is that people are really excited to see Ryan Smith and Smith Entertainment Group in the league. They just feel it’s time. It’s, and he has a great reputation for creativity. There’s a lot of people who want him in. So there’s happy that he is going to be quote unquote, a member of the club if this closes.

I think if there was one disappointment it was for the players, even though they found out about a week ago that this could happen, I think the fact that Arizona kept talking about the land auction confused them they thought it could happen. They were disappointed by the way it played out and there were a couple individuals who around the team who said to me that one person deserves a lot of credit is the head coach Andre Tourigny because he demanded that the team be addressed and the staff be addressed, including very vocally in one particular case.

So that’s kind of where we’re standing and they’re hoping they can do it Thursday or Friday.

And not that many players under contract with Coyotes a lot of cap space, a lot of draft capital, they got like 10 Second Rounders in the next three years.”

Friedman: “Yeah.”

MacLean: “It’s gonna be a wild time.”