Report: Coyotes sale getting closer, yada, yada, it’s not done yet

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In a lot of ways, the Phoenix Coyotes saga feels like taking a really long family vacation in the car.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

The only difference is Gary Bettman hasn’t hit the brakes, pulled over to the side of the highway, crawled into the back seat and cleaned house.

Anyway, the latest “almost there” report comes via ESPN.com:

The Phoenix Coyotes could be nearing a sale, which would keep the team in the desert, the club’s president and COO said Thursday.

“Things are moving pretty quickly and a lot of work is being done,” Mike Nealy said in an interview Thursday with ESPN.com and QMI Agency of Canada. “I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw something next week. I wouldn’t be panicked if it didn’t happen, but I’m looking for the near term.”

Former San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison has reportedly put together the necessary funds to purchase the team from the NHL.

However, as we wrote Monday, there’s still the matter of negotiating a lease at Jobing.com Arena between the Coyotes and Glendale that a) gains the approval of city council, and b) isn’t so generous to the Coyotes that it draws the ire of the Goldwater Institute, the taxpayer watchdog group that scuttled Matthew Hulsizer’s ownership bid by threat of litigation.

On that last point, Nealy doesn’t expect Goldwater to be a factor this time around, though he did qualify his expectations with, “That’s my opinion. They could surface. They haven’t. We’ll see, but I think it could work out and if they surface, they surface and we’ll navigate that.”

It should also be noted that Nealy’s optimism isn’t shared by everyone. For example, the CBC’s Cassie Campbell-Pascall wrote the following Monday:

The league will continue to look at all options that keep the team in Phoenix, but from what I am hearing it is pretty much a done deal that the team will be elsewhere next season. One option I have heard is to fold the franchise and have an expansion area take the team over for next season. This allows you to get the best price possible back for the team.

If you’re wondering, the Brooklyn Americans were the last NHL team to fold, and that happened all the way back in 1942.

(The Cleveland Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars in 1978, but that doesn’t count because the Barons were only hibernating — in a roundabout way, they eventually became the San Jose Sharks.)