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Bettman: Coyotes on the move soon, just not out of Arizona

Sportsnaut
Feb 12, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; A general view of a face off during the third period of the game between the Arizona Coyotes and the St. Louis Blues at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 12, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; A general view of a face off during the third period of the game between the Arizona Coyotes and the St. Louis Blues at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Convinced they are not a flight risk, despite evidence to the contrary, the NHL gave assurances Friday that the Arizona Coyotes will remain firmly planted in the desert.

After initial talk that the Coyotes were interested in a new arena, then this week’s fiasco where the club was required to pay the state $1.4 million for lapsed payment of taxes, the strained relationship between the team and local officials has spawned rumors of a move.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday, though, that owner Alex Meruelo is not interested in bolting from the state, although leaving their current venue in Glendale will happen soon.

“Alex is committed, Alex has the resources, and the Coyotes aren’t going anywhere,” Bettman said from the NHL board of governors meetings. “Well, they’re going somewhere else other than Glendale.”

While it already has been announced that this is the Coyotes’ last season at Gila River Arena, on the west end of the metropolitan Phoenix area, the team has not announced where it would play next season.

Reports have said the Coyotes could eventually end up in Tempe, adjacent to the campus of Arizona State, but a new arena there would not be ready by next season. Temporary venue options include a move back to downtown Phoenix, where they played after their move to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1996.

Without being specific, Bettman touted multiple options to house the team on a temporary basis.

“It’s clear that the city of Glendale has either an agenda or an edge with how they’re dealing with the Coyotes,” Bettman said.

The Coyotes made the playoffs in each of their first four seasons in Phoenix and five of the first six. But they have made the postseason in just four of the previous 18 seasons and just once since the start of the 2012-13 season.

–Field Level Media