The Phoenix Coyotes are under new ownership and committed to staying in Glendale, Ariz. The NHL sold the team to a group of investors called IceArizona Acquisition Co., a deal which was approved Monday by the NHL Board of Governors.
On Tuesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Arizona Sports 620’s Dan Bickley with Vince Marotta that he and the NHL Board of Governors were patient in looking for a buyer for the team.
“We were committed to keeping the franchise here, keeping the building (Jobing.com Arena) alive and preserving it for the fans and the community,” Bettman said.
The league took control of the organization in 2009 because it had fallen into bankruptcy, which Bettman called an unfortunate situation for the franchise and the community.
However, he said he didn’t feel the heat from other owners and the Board of Governors over the last four years while the Coyotes were subsidized by the league and looking for a buyer.
“The Board of Governers was supportive. Everybody knew going in what needed to be done, and I didn’t get pushback as we went through the process,” Bettman said, while acknowledging that the window to sell would be closing soon if a deal hadn’t been made.
When asked if he would have had tried so hard with any other team to keep them in the same market, Bettman replied, “We always do everything possible to keep a franchise where it is.”
But Bettman said it was more than just trying to keep the Coyotes’ name intact and avoiding the rigors of moving a team to a different market; he said he believes in the fans and the opportunity the team has in this community.
“Everybody believed, certainly from my standpoint, that this community has great hockey fans, great sports fans, and that this would work and it would work really well if people could have the comfort that the team was going to be here, and now it is,” the commissioner said.
Bettman also credited the support of Coyotes fixtures such as general manager Don Maloney, head coach Dave Tippett and captain Shane Doan in keeping the franchise viable and committed to the Glendale market, leading to a successful ownership deal.