When Quebec City made it official Sunday that an NHL-ready rink would be built by 2015, many considered it a sure sign the Phoenix Coyotes would be moving to La Belle Province at the end of the season.
Not so fast, says TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The NHL’s goal remains keeping the Coyotes in Glendale. So stop wondering who Patrick Roy should draft in June. And hold off on the plans for Wilf Paiement appreciation night.
That said, McKenzie acknowledged time’s quickly running out to find an owner that’s willing to keep the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena for the long run.
The NHL cannot possibly wait as long this year as it did last year for the Phoenix situation to resolve itself. Last year, the Coyotes were not locked in for another season in Phoenix until almost mid-May and the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg didn’t take place until the end of May.
The NHL was able to wait as long last year because True North – the owner of the Jets – had an entire hockey and business and arena infrastructure ready, willing and able to accept a franchise at the last minute.
In spite of Sunday’s arena news conference in Quebec City, neither Quebec nor Seattle are as well positioned as Winnipeg. So unless Phoenix is resolved in short order, the league will at the very least have to begin laying some relocation groundwork in the very near future.
Of note, McKenzie wonders if Quebec City is actually the NHL’s first choice for relocation, writing “Seattle may be a more desirable location.”
He also floats the possibility of expanding from 30 to 32 teams in the near future (exactly how near, nobody knows).