Arizona Coyotes release letter to fans, address ownership speculation

Jan 1, 2019, 12:35 PM | Updated: 12:57 pm
Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen (Arizona Coyotes photo)...
Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen (Arizona Coyotes photo)
(Arizona Coyotes photo)

The Arizona Coyotes released a letter to their fanbase on Tuesday, ringing in the New Year by addressing reports and speculation regarding the team’s ownership situation.

The letter comes following almost a year of reports that the Coyotes were exploring a sale of the team, or even that sale was imminent. In December, sources told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Dan Bickley that a sale of the team was coming. Reports earlier in the year also indicated that a change in ownership either could or would happen in the near future.

There has also been speculation that Arizona’s NHL franchise could be relocated to Houston after it was made known that Seattle’s expansion team would bump the Coyotes to the league’s central division. Additionally, there were reports that Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta had met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about the prospects of getting the NHL to Houston, and one report said that he had engaged in preliminary talks of buying the Coyotes, though nothing was close.

Team president and CEO Ahron Cohen — the speaker who is addressing fans in the team’s letter — zeroed in specifically on ownership and relocation rumors, among other things:

Recently, you may have read reports about a potential ownership transaction. As I have said for months, we will continue to explore investment opportunities to better assist our team in achieving our long-term goals and organizational vision. This process has at its core one key pre-condition: any investment in our team must be laser-focused on helping the Coyotes achieve a long-term sustainable arena solution here in Arizona.

Every potential investment opportunity we evaluate and every business deal we consider is predicated on making our franchise successful here in Arizona for decades to come.

Arizona is our home. We love it here. And we love playing for you, the very best fans in the NHL.

The team is currently owned by Andrew Barroway, who bought out the rest of a group of owners in June of 2017.

The Coyotes play on a year-to-year lease at Gila River Arena that automatically renews if the team doesn’t opt out. The team did in fact let its lease renew for the year 2019, a move that comes of little surprise.

Cohen’s letter also reflected on the team’s successes of 2018, ranging from the growth of the team under head coach Rick Tocchet; the eight-year contract extension given to now-captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson; the resilience of the team to battle through injuries and stay within the Western Conference picture at the turn of the calendar year; the Coyotes’ more-than $2.7 million of donations to the community; and the hiring of brand ambassador Lyndsey Fry.

As we reach the start of the new year – and the approximate halfway point of the 2018-19 National Hockey League season – it feels like the perfect moment to pause and thank every member of our Coyotes family for the successes we experienced as an organization during 2018. Everything we’ve accomplished on the ice and off has been made possible by your passion for #OurPack and your commitment to the Arizona Coyotes.

Cohen is in his first season as president and CEO after being promoted to the position in July of 2018. He has been with the Coyotes organization since August of 2015.

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