Coyotes' off-ice issues take back seat to on-ice success | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaCoyotes' off-ice issues take back seat to on-ice success

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012 | 04:59 PM

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A fan of the Phoenix Coyotes holds up a sign in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) A fan of the Phoenix Coyotes holds up a sign in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Whenever we mention the future of the Phoenix Coyotes, the fine people in Quebec City get too excited, people in the NHL's New York office get too upset and the people in Glendale, they, well, yawn. For now, head coach Dave Tippett, his goalie Mike Smith and the rest of the Coyotes have been providing the excitement.

Whenever we mention the future of the Phoenix Coyotes, the fine people in Quebec City get too excited, people in the NHL's New York office get too upset and the people in Glendale, they, well, yawn.

Maybe that part about the yawn is a bit harsh. There are some loyal Coyotes fans in the desert, and way more these days now that the financially-challenged NHL team has pushed itself to within two victories away from advancing to the Western Conference final.

But with little fanfare, there was a positive development over the weekend in terms of the Coyotes remaining in Arizona. Four of seven Glendale council members agreed to move forward on a deal that could pay prospective Coyotes owner Greg Jamison $17-million to manage the city-owned Jobing.com Arena next year.

But at this point, nobody knows whether the Coyotes will continue on in the desert next season or be relocated. Nobody knows whether Jamison, a former San Jose Sharks president, can put together the financing and a deal to own the team.

The ones who have the best idea on what will transpire in the next two-and-a-half months are Jamison, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly and Glendale city manager Ed Beasley. But they're not offering any concrete information on the matter these days.

Jamison recently admitted he has been working on a deal to buy the Coyotes for months. He showed up to a Coyotes playoff game 10 days ago and gave an interview to the Arizona Republic.

"We're working at it," Jamison said. "There's been progress made. We are optimistic that this can get done, but this is not a guarantee that this can get done."

Since the NHL assumed ownership of the Coyotes back in May 2009, when former owner Jerry Moyes filed for bankruptcy, there have been a few failed attempts to buy the NHL club.

The watchdog group, the Goldwater Institute, has played a role, and it has yet to weigh in on the potential sale to Jamison. But when, or if, this sale does get closer, you can bet the outspoken non-profit organization will be heard from.

The Goldwater Institute doesn't think any deal, in which the city has to ante up taxpayer dollars to keep the NHL team, is a good deal. Some members of Glendale's city council believe that it would cost the taxpayers more if the NHL team moves.

According to the Arizona Republic, a study commissioned by Glendale estimates if the team moves the city would have to pay $262 million in arena principal and interest debt. Another analysis projected the city "could expect to bring in an average of $15.7 million annually over a 20-year lease with Jamison and $6.5 million without the Coyotes."

Obviously, the clock is ticking on this situation. The NHL presumably needs an answer soon to finalize a schedule and the city of Glendale has to put together its budget by mid-June. If the Coyotes don't stay, then it's Seattle or Quebec City. The league has been quiet on this front, too.

Quebec City plans to begin building its new rink in September. The situation in Seattle is unclear. It wants an NBA franchise to go with an NHL team. The basketball team that is in flux has been the Sacramento Kings. Anaheim, however, also has interest in the NBA team and has an arena, the Honda Center, where the NHL Ducks perform. 

So, from all corners, plenty has to develop for an ending in this multi-act story.

Meanwhile, excitement builds in Glendale for the Coyotes on-ice efforts. After only 12,420 fans - the lowest average crowd among the 30 NHL teams - showed up in the regular season, Jobing.com Arena has been at capacity with an average crowd of 17,365 in five home games in the playoffs.

For now, head coach Dave Tippett, his wonderful goalie Mike Smith and the rest of the Coyotes will forge on will provide the excitement.

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