From Kevin Allen of USA Today Sports:
USA TODAY Sports has confirmed that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will be in Arizona Monday afternoon to announce that the Phoenix Coyotes have tentatively been sold after two seasons of league ownership.
Although the ownership group hasn’t been confirmed, the leading candidate had been a group led by former San Jose Sharks chief executive officer Greg Jamison.
Whoomp, there it is.
With apologies to those diehard fans from Quebec (who will get their team eventually), there are a lot of fans here who deserve this. Today’s a special day for them – having the chance to move on to the Western Conference Final after the announcement isn’t a bad little cherry on top either.
By now, most people are aware that Glendale is the worst conceivable place in or around Phoenix for this team to play. That town is hemorrhaging money, its politics are a mess, and it’s a bunch of highway driving away from where, y’know, people actually live (and you have to go through the city at rush hour for a lot of games). That’s just the way it is. But I’ve met a huge number of fans here who care passionately about this team, and I can assure you the games are finally on at every bar around town (trust me). Interest is growing despite the team’s location, and I believe the Coyotes can succeed on and off the ice in Arizona.
This team has never won before. They’ve never given the casual fan reason to go hardcore. As I wrote when I first moved here, people weren’t attending because the team simply wasn’t worth watching. Between Smith, Ekman-Larsson, Yandle, Vrbata, Doan, Whitney and finally winning, there’s reason for those who wouldn’t normally watch to get involved.
Combine that with a new owner, the security of knowing their team is Their Team for keeps now, and the playoff push, and I’d be shocked if you didn’t see a good increase in season ticket sales.
We’ll talk more on this when it’s official, but for now, things look awfully good for fans in Phoenix (here are the remaining hurdles, from David Shoalts). The team will no longer be owned by the League, and will likely be staying in beautiful Jobing.com arena for years to come.