Phoenix Coyotes likely to stay in Arizona

Just before the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Nasvhile Predators 2-1 Monday night to reach the Western Conference finals for the first time in the franchise’s history, NHL’s Commissioner Gary Bettmen announced the league had a preliminary deal to sell the Coyotes to a group led by former San Jose Sharks owner Greg Jamison.

As the tentative deal with Jamison includes keeping the Coyotes in Glendale, hopes that another Canadian city might get another NHL team soon have been postponed. In the three years since the NHL took ownership of the Coyotes after its previous owner, Jerry Moyes, entered the team into bankruptcy, three Canadian cities have been vying for the franchise’s relocation. First it was the former Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie who wanted to take the team to Hamilton, Ont.; then Quebec City, Que., and most recently Markham, Ont., have been working on new hockey arenas in hopes of to welcoming an NHL franchise.

According to the Toronto Star’s Mark Zwolinski, with the Coyotes possibly staying in Phoenix, Markham and Quebec City should now be eyeing the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers as possible targets for a relocation to Canada.

From the Toronto Star:

Attention should fall on the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers. Both teams have bled money for several years, and the Devils, while potential Stanley Cup finalists and residing in a new arena in Newark, were trying to shed a $250 million debt reported a year ago.

Florida’s situation may come to a head this summer, mirroring the Coyotes in 2009 when the NHL rescued the franchise from bankruptcy.

For now, Bettman said the NHL will “proceed towards a final agreement (sale)” of the Coyotes while Jamison will “proceed towards an agreement with the city of Glendale.”

“I hope it can be concluded in weeks as opposed to months,” Bettman said, nearly three years after the NHL took over control of the team.

When asked what Monday’s news means for Quebec City, Bettman said “we’re not focused on any other place for the Coyotes other than Glendale.”