Arizona Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc understands how it looks.
In June, when the Glendale City Council voted to void an agreement that would allow the Arizona Coyotes to play in Gila River Arena, he was not bashful in saying there was no way the franchise would renegotiate the deal.
Friday, the city approved a new lease settlement with the Coyotes, one that will keep them in town for at least the next two seasons.
So, why the change of heart?
NHL free agency happened.
“As I sat in the war room and heard some of the conversations he was having with agents, and hearing that there were players who didn’t want to come or look at the Coyotes because of the uncertainty with the city, it was a red flag,” LeBlanc told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday. “But the real, the big red flag, was when Mikkel Boedker said that he would only sign a one-year deal.
“We’re talking about a guy who’s been here for a couple years, great guy, great part of the organization, and when he said the uncertainty was enough that he wouldn’t sign for more than year, what happened was myself and three of my colleagues — George Gosbee, Gary Drummond and Craig Stewart were all in town for the prospect camp — and we all got together and said, ‘This has to stop.'”
LeBlanc said from a legal standpoint, it was understood within the organization that the Coyotes would have come out on top in the lawsuit, but ended up losing overall because of the negative impact it all had on the business.
The co-owner pointed to troubles in sponsorships and ticket sales as well as free agency. But once the new agreement was announced, he said, the team’s phones started ringing again.
“It put just a complete chill on our ticket sales,” he said. “We had sponsors saying, ‘Look, we love the idea of working with you, call us when this is all set and done.'”
So whether the Coyotes were right or wrong in terms of the legal dispute, it just got to a point where possibly winning there down the road was not worth the cost of losing everywhere else.