The Arizona Coyotes said it would be different this time. They said their ownership group was comprised of “people that can get this done.”
And yet, who was surprised to hear Friday that the team’s plans to build a new arena in Tempe were dead?
The answer is, nobody was surprised. Friday was just the latest setback on a long list. Once again, there is no plan for a new arena to replace the one in Glendale, and the Coyotes have made it crystal clear that they aren’t staying in Glendale.
“Unfortunately, it appears the ASU deal will not being moving forward,” said Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. “We will continue to explore other options that will ensure a successful future for the team and our fans. We’re a determined bunch — on the ice and off the ice. We intend to do everything we can to keep NHL hockey here in Arizona.”
But according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Coyotes were “shocked” that ASU backed out. And that’s not a good look for ownership.
It’s not a good look for the NHL either. This drama has been going on for years now. One day, the situation in the desert looks dire. The next, a plan comes together and there’s great optimism. The next, the plan falls apart and it’s back to dire.
Regarding possible relocation, there is still no hard-and-fast arena plan in Seattle. That being said, there is a concerted push, with some big names attached, to get one built. The NHL has made no secret that the Pacific Northwest is on their radar. There’s an arena in Portland, Oregon, which could be an option as well.
As for Quebec City, it is unlikely that the NHL would want the Coyotes to move there, as that would only worsen the league’s geographic imbalance.
But the NHL cannot allow this situation to exist for much longer. It is beyond embarrassing now. Just recall what the commissioner, Gary Bettman, said after the now-dead Tempe deal was announced in November.
“I think first and foremost it’ll stop all the speculation as to what may or may not happen to the franchise,” Bettman said.