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.

And further…

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 arena for years to come.

Comments (15)

  1. This is very cool news. The arena is amazing. There is no bad seat in the whole place and the atmosphere (when a crowd actually attends) is amazing. The fans are passionate and it’s nice to finally see them rewarded for their loyalty.

    • Totally agree all around – is one of the nicest leagues around.

    • Stating that Phoenix “fans” are passionate is a joke and completely out of touch with “reality”. Its a joke franchise protected by Bettmans “American interests”. The fans will dissappear after the playoffs and be, as history dictates, “a NO-SHOW” come next Fall. Enough of this non-sense,,move the franchise to where it belongs – In Canada!

      • Reading “comments” like “this” is getting pretty damn “old” for me. Especially considering that if Jamison ends up owning them it just ends up looking like Bettman made the right decision after all.

    • what a joke . Hockey in Arizona . In the season alots of home Coyotes games have just 12000 spactators in the arena. Québec deserve so much more than Phoenix to have a NHL team and all hockey fans know that …

  2. I think I just cried a little bit!

  3. Good for them. And Bettman now has someone to had the Cup to, should it come to that next month.

    Downside – does Jamison demand a trip to the Conference Finals every year? “I mean, you did it two days after I got here, how hard can it be?”

  4. Alright Phoenix, now its on you. Show up in the regular season!

  5. I don’t think it’s too bad for diehard Quebec fans, and I really don’t think they will have to wait long. The move of Atlanta to Winnipeg means the NHL clearly needs to change their divisional setup. They came up with a good solution, with 4 divisions. But that meant two with 7 and two with 8, which can be workable but clearly a problem.

    So what to do? Well, what if the NHL added 2 more teams? Let’s look at the divisions they were setting up:

    Div A (8 teams): Ana, Cgy, Col, Edm, LA, Pho, SJ, Van
    Div B (8 teams): Chi, Cbs, Dal, Det, Min, Nsh, Stl, Wpg
    Div C (7 teams): Bos, Buf, Flo, Mtl, Ott, TB, Tor
    Div D (7 teams): Car, NJ, NYI, NYR, Phi, Pit, Wsh

    My thinking? They move a team like Nashville or Columbus into division D (probably Columbus). Then they add Quebec to division C and another Toronto team (Markham) to division B. Both cities have arenas and owners waiting around, afterall, and the NHL can collect more money from expansion fees than from relocation fees.

    So it would look like this:
    Div A: Ana, Cgy, Col, Edm, LA, Pho, SJ, Van
    Div B: Chi, *Cbs/Nsh*, Dal, Det, Min, Stl, *Tor2*, Wpg
    Div C: Bos, Buf, Flo, Mtl, Ott, *Que*, TB, Tor1
    Div D: Car, *Cbs/Nsh*, NJ, NYI, NYR, Phi, Pit, Wsh

    Detroit would be able to keep the rivalry with Chicago while adding a big market opponent in Toronto2. It also makes sense geographically, with the exception of Dallas. Montreal’s division makes sense adding Quebec, and would certainly increase revenue in TB and Flo as the snowbirds would have more games to go to. Cbs may not be as close to Div D teams as, say, Boston or Buffalo, but the NHL would be unlikely to seperate Toronto and Buffalo (for shared fanbase reasons) or Montreal and Boston (for rivalry reasons).

    Obviously a lot of fans are against expansion, but the NHL has had 30 teams for 12 years. The last time the NHL went 12 years without expansion was from 1979 to 1991. If they go to 13 years without expansion, which seems likely considering there is no time to set up expansion for next year, it will be the most ‘stable’ period since 1967. How much harm could adding 2 new teams do?

    • How much harm could there be in two new teams? I don’t want to find out… I think the reverse is probably the healthier course. The league could contract two teams, and hold a three-round dispersal draft: all 28 remaining teams have a chance at choosing first (weighted towards non-playoff teams), with unsigned rights to draftees being eligible for selection.

      The only difficulty is picking which clubs get the axe. Even Atlanta had passionate Thrashers fans; even Columbus has passionate Jackets fans. The expansion scenario is more likely, but I do not want to see how horrible those 31st and 32nd teams are going to be.

  6. And are home to one of the more interesting players in the league ..Paul Bissonnette (keep lining em up and knocking them down)

  7. Hey…didn’t Quebec have a team once? Fear not, Frozen North. We’ve got plenty of hockey fans down here…tens of thousands of tanned Canadians who can’t stand the winters up there any more. Not to mention the hordes of Red Wings, Blackhawks, Avalanche and even San Jose fans who can’t cut the umbilical.

    The Cardinals have gone through the same thing. It took time, and some winning seasons, but an awesome fan base has appeared. Same will happen for the ‘yotes. Wait and see…

  8. im for the return of the best rivality of all time in the nhl Québec Nordiques vs Montreal Canadiens .

  9. and québec city are one of the most beautiful city in north america

  10. common Bettman ,wake up and make the ruturn of nordiques possible . Phoenix to Québec for next year . no money to make in Phoenix …

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