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Gary Bettman updates Phoenix Coyotes sale situation

Jan 19, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

Vancouver Canucks v Phoenix Coyotes Getty Images

The NHL has been stuck in limbo with the Phoenix Coyotes sale for long enough that it’s almost hard to believe that a resolution might ever happen. If you read a bit into Gary Bettman’s comments from last night, then you might just believe that an answer could come soon, though.

Bettman spoke with Anaheim-area media* Wednesday regarding a variety of issues, but amid all the cryptic comments, the Coyotes bits carried an air of exhaustion. Let’s pick apart the juiciest bits.

“Nothing’s imminent”

When asked about the possible owners “on the back burner” in Phoenix, here is what Bettman had to say:

“Nothing imminent,” Bettman said. “But it’s still being worked on. It’s still a work in progress and there’s no significant development that I’m in position to report.”

Ouch. It almost sounds like there’s not a shiny new Matt Hulsizer/Jerry Reinsdorf to shake in front of people to distract them from the undesirable situation. When Bettman was asked if he wanted to bring the situation “to a conclusion” in Phoenix, he had this to say:

“Our goal is to bring it to a conclusion in Phoenix,” Bettman said. “If, in fact, we don’t have an alternative, we’ll deal with it. But we’re not at that point.”

Naturally, that brings us to a crucial question: when will the NHL reach that point? Honestly, many of us believed it reached the point of no return at least a couple times before, yet some last minute twist – good or bad – always seemed to come along.

The difference is, this time around, Bettman kind-of-sort-of admits that it all might wind down in the very near future.

“If I were speculating, that would be my guess and at some point, if we can’t get it resolved for next year, then obviously I think we’ll have to consider our alternatives—but that’s not new news.”

It’s true, this isn’t really “new news,” but it all feels a little different coming from Bettman’s mouth.

So, let me ask: Are these quotes a sign that things are moving in the wrong direction – as in, away from Phoenix – or are they really no big deal? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

* – Including PHT’s own Matt Reitz.

  1. cshearing - Jan 19, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    They will be playing elsewhere next year.

  2. t16rich - Jan 19, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    This isnt a knock to the true Coyotes fans, I can clearly tell that there is a large number of really big Yotes fans. But in reality there isnt enough of you. There are so many other cities and fan bases that will sell out on a regular basis which is somthing Phoenix dosnt do. The fans seem to only show up for playoffs or when a top team comes in to play, and generally there is as many opposing fans as Yotes fans. I dont think I have ever heard Canucks fans be outcheered at a game in Phoenix. Again I am not trying to ruffle feathers of die hard Coyote fans but in reality there isnt enough die hards to let that team stay there. The Phoenix Coyotes would be far better off in Seattle or Portland. And the last thing I need to hear is a Coyote supporter tell me that it will delay the growth of the game. If the Phoenix/Arizona area is so concerned with growing the game, they should start at the youth level. If there was a strong youth program in place before the Coyotes came to Phoenix, I guarantee you there would be a larger interest in the sport. But instead Arizona hockey has just recently started to grow, and there is still a lack of interest in their NHL team.

  3. buffalomafia - Jan 19, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Quebec or Portland!

    • t16rich - Jan 19, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      Yup. Portland should be first in line, that way we keep a west team in the west and Portland have a builiding that is NHL ready. Sorry Phoenix fans. Truth hurts so keep thumbs downing it.

  4. pavelfitzgerald - Jan 19, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    I think the thumbs down have less to do with Phoenix & more to do with Portland. It’s obvious that if they move the Coyotes that Quebec would be at the top of the list

    • cshearing - Jan 19, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      I agree that seems best, but I am not sure if it is doable. The Coyotes would have to be moved for next season.; the municipal government has already said their debt-covering payments to the league are done after this year. The problem is, Quebec City does not have a truly viable arena right now. I guess it is possible they could play ot the old old Colisee until a new rink can be built, but it would make for some lean years in a very old building.

      It still might be the best option. Not sure how Portland/Seattle/Kansas City would work out, or if they could move quickly enough.

      • bcisleman - Jan 19, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        Most of the talk has been about Seattle. Quebec, as you say, is not ready. Will the NHL work in Seattle any better than PHO? Surprised there has never been an effort to bring the NHL to Wisconsin. Hockey is certainly a big part of the culture there and it is fairly densely populated.

      • 12is3times4 - Jan 19, 2012 at 7:38 PM

        Re: bcisleman – Milwaukee is a non-starter for the same reason Hamilton is, namely because an existing NHL club (in this case the Blackhawks) already claims that market as part of its “turf”.

        Not to mention that Milwaukee’s fast becoming the new Detroit economy-wise, and that 20-odd-yead-old Bradley Center is positively ancient by the NHL’s and NBA’s present standards. Milwaukee will be hard-pressed to keep the NBA Bucks in town, never mind bringing an NHL team to town.

  5. hsnepts - Jan 19, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Now I feel informed. Bettman is such an honest guy. That’s probably why the hockey these days is such an honest and respectable product. Its a reflection of his good character.

  6. JDubs - Jan 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    I love Phoenix, visited there many times.

    But Seattle, Portland, or anywhere in Canada would be best for the franchise going forward.

    For future reference, Seattle is just as large of a market as Phoenix and would maintain rivals with the western cities. I just wish the PA would have approved the realignment.

  7. buffalomafia - Jan 19, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Like that one guy commented, Wisconsin should get a team???????

    • 12is3times4 - Jan 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM

      As mentioned above, Milwaukee (the only market in that state large enough to support a team) is a non-starter for a number of reasons.

  8. serbvet1 - Jan 19, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    As a Phoenix Coyotes fan (whose son skates on a Coyotes Development League Team) I am so frustrated with this lingering issue. There are many reasons why this team is not well supported but one of the big issues, in my opinion, is that the media in Phoenix treats this team like a “red-headed stepchild.” The sportscasts on most of the local stations fail to mention the team consistently. The print media relegates the team to the back pages of the paper as well. I would also think that some of the blame may fall on the team itself- or the media department for failure to generate exposure in the community.

    As much as I love my Yotes I understand that, most likely, they will be elsewhere next year. But Portland? Please. It is a small town in comparison to Phoenix and other NHL markets. I cannot see how it will support an NHL team either. The Trailblazers are Portland. I think Quebec makes the most sense. I would be most supportive of a move to Quebec. The return of the Nordiques would not be as painful to me. And although I will still sport my Vrbata jersey in red I can see myself ordering a new Nordiques jersey.

    Go Yotes and crush the Wings tonight!

    • swoosh283 - Feb 6, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      How is Portland a “smaller market” than most NHL markets?? Care to do some research before posting? Portland is a top 25 American market, ahead of such oh-so-awesome NHL markets such as Raleigh, Buffalo, Nashville, Pittsburgh, and Columbus. Markets like Denver and St. Louis are BARELY larger. Source: http://www.stationindex.com/tv/tv-markets.

      Not to mention Canadian cities like Winnipeg, Calgary, and Edmonton.

      Gotta come a little harder than that if you’re going to say another market is “small.” Has more to do with the locals not wanting to pour money into sh!t+y sports teams like 80% of other American cities do.

  9. thunderjh - Jan 19, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    I recently moved to Phoenix from the southeast and am a hockey fan. I have been a Sharks fan since they started. I was thinking about season tix for the Coyotes, but hate the in limbo feeling. I think the biggest mistake was where they built the arena, had they put it closer to Scottsdale and Mesa, they might have drawn better. I don’t know if the NHL would be up for it, but maybe the team could split the season between Phoenix and either SLC or LV. I don’t think either city would support a full time NHL team. That would build the fan base and perhaps they would have more sellouts. Not sure how you would work out the playoffs though.

  10. serbvet1 - Jan 20, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    thunderjh,

    I think the location of the arena is a contrived reason for the lack of support of the Coyotes. I left the Ice Den (Coyotes Training Facility and rink) at 6:05pm to go the Red Wings game. Driving in rush hour track I made it across town to the game by 6:30pm. Twenty five minutes is not far. The arena location excuse is bunk. People have to get over their psychological barrier of Glendale and the west side as the real reason they do not go to the game.

    I have lived in Phoenix my entire life and many people have a thing against the west and southern parts of metropolitan Phoenix. I used to be that way growing up in North Central Phoenix. There is a reason many people refer to Scottsdale as “Snottsdale.” And Mesa, Gilbert, and Chandler are so far east- even for downtown Phoenix.

    Jobing.com arena is great. Easy to get to, free parking, and great sight lines. Plus the hockey. It is better than US Airways Center by far.

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