NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Press Conference Heavy With Coyote Ownership Questions

Today at the NHL All-Star game in Ottawa, Commissioner Gary Bettman took questions from the media on a wide range of topics. Three top three items were the NHLPA and realignment, NHLPA and negotiations for a new labor contract, and the Phoenix Coyote ownership status.
With respect to the Coyotes, here are the questions from the assembled media and the answers from Commissioner Bettman. Reporters were not identified so I don’t know who asked the questions. For sake of space, I am listing the Coyotes questions by numbers even though they were randomly asked in the Q&A session.

  1. Quebec would like some important update on the Coyotes for next season. Would that be a good plan for Phoenix to relocate? (Question spoken with heavy French accent, might have missed a word, but generally this is what was asked). Answer-We have told cities without teams to not do anything or make any plans as we (NHL) have not made any promises.
  2. Has the escrow situation been fixed with the NHLPA with regard to what happened in the fall with the Phoenix Coyotes situation? Answer-It is not untypical that during final accounting and you are accounting for 3 billion in revenue, not everything is crystal clear. My guess is that it took a little longer this year because there were some new people on the union side and there is a learning curve, but overall we were very comfortable with where things came out and not unexpected from where we thought we would wind up.
  3. The situation in Phoenix has been going on for quite awhile. Why has it taken so long? This time, how optimistic are you to finally having a deal in place there? Answer-We don’t like moving franchises. It has taken a long time (a) fairly complicated (b)a lot of damage was done in the process where we had to assume control over the club. At some point we may have to conclude it is not solve-able, but we are not at that point yet.
  4. Mr. Bettman, you  have said that there is no timetable about Phoenix situation. Is it true that after the month of April it would be harder with scheduling issues. So that there is timetable right? Answer-I understand that in some places there is anxiety to have us move faster, but if you look at timetable used last year to move to Winnipeg, it was fairly seamless. It wasn’t on the timetable you (reporter) just laid out.
  5. The Mayor of Glendale has mentioned that the asking price for the Coyotes is too high and contributing to the delay in selling the team. Answer-That has not come up from any of the groups looking to buy the Coyotes.
There was another question that was asked in multiple parts that had one part concerning the City of Glendale and comments made in the media by the Mayor regarding her not receiving any communication from the League or Commissioner’s office regarding progress on the approval of an ownership group that would be needed prior to the CoG negotiating the arena contract. Commissioner denied that he or his office has not contacted the CoG, stated that several reports he has seen of Council members who are supporting or disapproving the sale are actually 180 degrees from what he knows.
What asked about the news that the Mayor of Glendale has asked he Council to earmark $25 million dollars for next year (CoG contribution to the NHL to continue to own the team while they look for a buyer-think supplementation of cost) he stated that he has no knowledge of that and that no one from the CoG has contacting his office to make such an offer.
So, here is some analysis. The NHL doesn’t want to move the team and is giving the CoG time to get its act together. The NHL doesn’t want to own the team next year. Not wanting to own it means it will do something before summer. The news coming out of the Mayor’s office and the CoG Council doesn’t fit with what his knowledge of what is taking place. Therefore, the CoG has better take a vote on going with one of the ownership groups that is trying to buy the team (please God and Shane let it be Jamison’s) and get a deal done now. A bad deal (less money to Glendale than they currently receive is better than no money) is better than no deal. If the team slips away, there will not be another team to come to Phoenix.

Tags: City Of Glenale Gary Bettman Mayor Elaine Scruggs NHL All-Star Game NHLPA Ownership Phoenix Coyotes

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