CHICAGO -- Whether the Phoenix Coyotes will play in the Arizona desert next season or be relocated
may be decided by the end of the month.
In his annual pre-Stanley Cup final address, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman refused to make public the timeline that the league has given the city of Glendale to negotiate a multi-million dollar management fee with the new ownership group, known as Renaissance Sports and Entertainment.
But Bettman strongly suggested he would like to see an agreement in place by the NHL board of governors' meeting on June 27.
"Maybe," was the commissioner's response when asked if there has to be a deal in place by the NHL board meeting in 15 days.
"Stuff is gonna happen," Bettman said, adding there is a critical city council meeting for the city of Glendale on June 25.
The league held private meetings with Glendale city council in late May to set a timeline and to sell the latest ownership group to take a run at buying the struggling franchise, which the league has operated for the past three seasons.
Bettman certainly used his time behind the microphone on Wednesday to put pressure on the Glendale city council. He remarked that he was worried about Glendale's future if the Coyotes were relocated and that the 10-year-old Jobing.com Arena could be "boarded up" without its main tenant.
"This has to be a decision the city of Glendale has to make," Bettman said.Where could Coyotes land?
But where would the Coyotes go? Certainly, this latest news will get hopes up in Quebec City once again. Bettman would not address that possibility as a Plan B. He said the league remains focused on keeping the Coyotes in Glendale, a line that has been uttered by Bettman hundreds of times.
The commissioner also added there are a number of markets interested.
"The phone keeps ringing the longer the Coyotes situation remains unresolved," he said.
It has been speculated that Seattle and Quebec City are the two most likely relocation destinations if the Coyotes move once and for all.
This has been a long, drawn-out saga. Bettman was asked why the league continues to believe the NHL should exist in the Phoenix area?
Bettman reiterated that he doesn't like to relocate teams until every possible angle has been exhausted, especially with a community like Glendale that built an arena to house an NHL team. He also believes that local sports fans would be in a better position to support the Coyotes with an owner committed to keeping the team in Glendale.
Other important matters Bettman and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly discussed prior to the opener of the Boston Bruins-Chicago Blackhawks final included:
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- An agreement for the NHL's Olympic participation continues to move along at a snail-like pace. Daly said the IOC, IIHF, NHLPA and NHL will hold more meetings next week. He remains optimistic that an agreement will be in place soon.
- Once the Olympic issue has been settled, the NHL will be in a better position to discuss with the NHLPA a plan to re-hatch the World Cup of Hockey, which has been dormant since 2004, as well as future games in Europe (exhibition and regular season) and world championship participation.
- Bettman also revealed that new four conference names under realignment, and the finalization of the new playoff format have been settled, but an announcement would not be made until sometime after the final.
- Concussions were down slightly on a per-game basis this season, but Bettman and Daly refused to provide any statistics.