The NHL not only expects to formalize plans next week to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics, the league will find out whether or not the Coyotes will continue to play in Phoenix next season.
These two storylines have dragged on far too long. But after a NHL board of governors meeting in New York on Thursday, commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated that an Olympic announcement is near. Meanwhile, the fate of the Coyotes is to be decided at a Glendale, Ariz. city council meeting on Tuesday.
Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers has set up a meeting on Friday afternoon to outline and discuss with the public the current deal on the table with the prospective ownership group, Renaissance Sports and Entertainment.
This group, fronted by Canadian businessmen George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc, has asked Glendale for a $15-million US annual fee to manage Jobing.com Arena. In return, the Coyotes would reimburse the city between $8 million to $11 million annually through rent, ticket surcharges, parking revenue, arena naming rights and new naming rights for the building's concert stage.
However, Glendale city council earlier this year came to the conclusion that they only would be willing to part with a $6-million-a-year management fee, as well as $500,000 for annual building upgrades.
Options in Seattle, Quebec City
If Glendale decides to vote down the management-fee deal with Renaissance, Bettman and Daly said they have alternatives. They wouldn't specifically state what Plan B entails, but they acknowledged that both Seattle's Key Arena and Quebec City are options.
"The fact of the matter is we haven't ironed out or put into effect a Plan B," Bettman said. "We have lots of options. I find it difficult to conceive of why if the council turns this down we would want to keep the team in Glendale any longer. We would then, if they turn it down, have to deal with possibilities and the options that will be available to us and they are numerous. There is enough time."
Meanwhile, I'm told there still is work to be done before there is an Olympic agreement between the NHL/NHLPA side, and the IOC/IIHF, but that all sides remain optimistic about a possible deal. Still, this will be another critical meeting in a long list of important get-togethers between all the different parties.
Shanahan rebuffs Flames
Brendan Shanahan has decided not to join the Calgary Flames as the head of hockey operations, after all. Instead, he will remain in his current position as NHL's director of player safety
Shanahan said he informed Flames principal owner Murray Edwards of his decision last week, even though there was heavy speculation Shanahan would join the Flames.
Add Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier, Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Steve Montador and his teammate Rostislav Olesz to the list of players to be bought out, a list that already includes Daniel Briere, Ilya Bryzgalov and Tomas Kaberle.
This group of players will be added to the unrestricted free-agent pool on July 5. The compliance buyout period began on Wednesday at 11 p.m. ET and ends on July 4 at 5 p.m. ET.
Meanwhile, New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather said he's yet to make a decision on whether or not to buy out centre Brad Richards.
Proposed rule changes update
The board of governors also gave the league authority to implement the rule changes that were bandied about at the general managers' meeting in Toronto in March, and further debated and recommended at the competition committee earlier this month.
These changes still need to be discussed by the NHLPA's executive board next week before the changes are made official.
The changes include:
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