‘Business as usual’ for Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong amid ownership chatter

Apr 4, 2024, 5:01 PM | Updated: 5:12 pm

Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo may be gauging interest from potential buyers for the franchise, but for general manager Bill Armstrong, the focus remains on building a championship-caliber team.

“I’ve always talked about it, our ownership is trying to close on the land there (for a new arena),” he told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo. “They bought it to try to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. For me, it’s business as usual. I’m very focused on the hockey side of it.

“As I said earlier in the summer, I don’t build the rinks, I build the teams. We’ve got to continue building this team until it’s a championship team. If we can continue to add pieces like we have through the draft or free agency, through trades and we continue to take another step next year, we’re getting there. If you come watch us play, you can see the good signs of hope coming. Now, we’ve got to take that next step.”

Armstrong’s comments came shortly after Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reported that Meruelo has spoken to multiple potential buyers — who are in the state and outside of it — to gauge their interest in purchasing the Coyotes.

Gambadoro added that Meruelo was seeking up to $1 billion for the franchise he purchased in July 2019. The Coyotes owner also had a recent meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the team’s future.

“Mr. Meruelo and the team are solely focused on the land auction and winning the bid. And to keep the Coyotes in Arizona,” the Coyotes told Arizona Sports on Thursday when asked about potential conversations Meruelo had with possible buyers.

After a May 2023 public vote failed to greenlight the team’s purchase and development of an entertainment district in Tempe, the Coyotes’ most recently targeted land for a new arena in northeast Phoenix near Scottsdale Road and the Loop 101. The NHL franchise owned by Meruelo was planning to purchase that state land at an auction that, if posted in April, would not be up for bid until June at the earliest.

The drafting of an auction notice had not yet been completed as of Thursday, the Arizona State Land Department told Arizona Sports.

The hockey franchise, which has played the past two seasons at Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena, has been searching for a site to construct a new arena after it was pushed out of its former home in Glendale after the 2021-22 season.

ASU and the Coyotes are under contract for the team to play there through 2024-25 with an option year the following season.

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