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NHL’s Gary Bettman: Coyotes not leaving Arizona ‘anytime soon’

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gestures during a news conference before the Skills Competition at the NHL All-Star Game events Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. The game takes place Sunday afternoon. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Questions surrounding where the Arizona Coyotes will call home next year have once again started to surface as this season continues to progress.

The Coyotes have called Glendale’s Gila River Arena their home since 2003, with their current lease running through the end of the 2017-18 season.

The team had a chance to opt out of its lease, but did not meet the Dec. 31 deadline.

A deal with Arizona State University to build a new arena that would have housed both the Coyotes and the Arizona State hockey program was in the works last year, but university withdrew from the plan.

In July, Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway said a new arena in the Valley would happen, it was just a matter of when.

“We’re going to make it happen,” Barroway said. “I think we’ve put the people in place to get it done, I can tell you we are aggressively pursuing all options and we have to make it work. We don’t have a choice.”

During media availability at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition in Tampa Bay, Fla., NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was asked if a timeline existed for how long the Coyotes could remain in Glendale without a permanent solution for an arena.

Bettman said that Barroway is continuing to work on the possibilities for a new arena in Arizona, adding that the “strength or resilience or persistence of a club depends on ownership’s willingness to continue the pursuit.”

“My hope and expectation is that things can be worked out in Arizona, and we’re going to continue to focus on it that way,” Bettman said.

The NHL commissioner referenced the Carolina Hurricanes as an example to the Coyotes’ situation, as the Hurricanes were once at the center of speculation involving the team leaving Carolina.

In that situation, Bettman said Carolina would not move, and they didn’t.

Now, he is making the same claim for the Coyotes.

“My only point is I wouldn’t focus on Arizona moving right now or anytime soon, or maybe ever,” he said. “So we’re not misconstrued here.”

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