BOCA RATON, FLA. -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated there are no contingency schedules being drawn up in case the Phoenix Coyotes will be relocated to Quebec City, Seattle or even Kansas City.
On the final morning of the general manager meetings, Bettman continued his refrain that the prolonged Coyotes sale remains a work in progress. He also said that the league continues to discuss new ownership for the financially challenged club with a few different groups.
The NHL commissioner also refused to set a deadline for when the Coyotes mess has to be settled before the league relocates the franchise.
"At some point we have to and I hope we don't get to that point," Bettman said.
Quebec City remains a strong possibility for relocation of the troubled Coyotes franchise. But an NHL executive cautioned that possible relocation cities for the Coyotes remain a dead heat between Quebec City, Seattle and Kansas City.
Le Colisee de Quebec, the former home of the Nordiques, could provide a temporary setting if the NHL green lights a move to Quebec City for next season. It is expected the rink will be fitted for NHL-specified glass and boards this summer and other refurbishments would be made if the Coyotes move there.
The new arena project for Quebec City, meanwhile, hit a snag last month when it was discovered that because of high levels of lead, tin, zinc, oil and carcinogens the cost to decontaminate the soil of the proposed site could cost as much as $40 million. CBA Update
The final day of the GM meetings was spent discussing the impending collective bargaining negotiations with the NHLPA. The current CBA expires on Sept. 15.
There have been no formal negotiations between the league and the players at this point, and there is not expected to be serious talks until after the Stanley Cup playoffs conclude.
Bettman told reporters that there was no update and that it should be business as usual for each team.
Bettman did not want to publicly predict what the salary cap number will be next season. But with revenues on the rise, the current salary cap of $64.3 million should increase to somewhere between $68 million and $70 million. Of course, this figure could change when a new collective agreement is sorted out.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero remarked that his team will have to be flexible and will devise a few different off-season game plans.
Meanwhile, Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis echoed Bettman's line about business as usual.
"We'll operate the team the way we have in the last four years," Gillis said. "If there is a player we feel we can add who will make our team better we'll look at that."
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said that he will not change his off-season plan because of the uncertainty that surrounds the CBA talks.
"We're just going to continue on," Murray said. "We're not close to the cap."Sather on Avery
As he departed the final assembly for the GM meetings, New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather was asked to comment on the retirement announcement of Sean Avery.
"If he's going to retire, he should retire," Sather said. "If not, maybe someone else will give him a job next year."
"We heard he wanted to retire. We sent him his retirement paper and of course he wouldn't sign them."
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