After four straight seasons of bankruptcy, rumors and NHL ownership, you can’t blame the Arizona Coyotes fan base for being a little wary of any news regarding a majority sale of the team.
Fourteen months after IceArizona, a group comprised of nine co-owners and headed by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc, purchased the team from the NHL, there is speculation that it will spin off 51 percent to a new majority owner.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in town Thursday to take in the Coyotes’ season-opening 6-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, and spoke on the matter prior to the game. He was nothing but optimistic about the potential deal going through.
“What it means is the franchise is heading in such a direction that there are people with substantial resources who want to be a part of this and want to bring additional assets and support to the franchise,” Bettman said. “And as that relates to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, that’s all good news.”
That person with substantial resources is rumored to be Andrew Barroway, who has attempted to buy both the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders recently. Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported last week the Philadelphia-based hedge fund manager would buy controlling interest based on a recent $305 million valuation of the Coyotes.
Bettman says he’s not sure why there is any concern from Coyotes fans on the potential of this deal.
“Actually at this point, I don’t understand the exasperation,” he said. “Everything we’ve told you for the last four years has come to fruition just the way we told you it would. In all the years the league operated the franchise and I got these questions on an ongoing basis, and I kept saying we were committed to being here.
“For people to still be cynical at this point and question either our intention or Ice Arizona’s intention, I think is grossly unfair at this point.”
Despite his confidence in the deal, Bettman did not name Barroway as the potential buyer.
The commissioner also was steadfast in his belief in the Valley as a long-term home for the Coyotes.
“Do we have every expectation that this is all working and will continue to work and the club is going to be here,” he asked. “The answer is absolutely yes.”