ESPN report details Coyotes’ move to Utah, Shane Doan’s departure

Apr 30, 2024, 1:38 PM | Updated: 1:38 pm

The Arizona Coyotes’ relocation of the hockey operations department to a Utah-based group shocked fans and its own players alike.

That’s because it was indeed unprecedented and sudden, with behind-the-scenes dealings between the NHL offices and two separate ownership groups. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski gave a peek behind how Arizona lost its hockey team in a detailed feature story.

The piece sheds more light on why the league felt the need to move the hockey team and how it negotiated with Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo to agree to keeping ownership of the franchise while selling the hockey operations side immediatley.

While ESPN dove into why the NHL viewed Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith as perfect to take on the task of relocating the team, it also touches on Meruelo’s franchise and its shot at rising out of inactivity.

Winning land auction for a Coyotes arena may not be clean

Meruelo has five years to show the NHL he has an NHL-caliber arena to reactivate his franchise and start from scratch. And in terms of starting from scratch, he must first win a land auction to develop into an arena. That auction is set for June 27, but it will require bidding for the plot of land starting at $68.5 million.

Before Meruelo gets to facing potential zoning and political pushback to build an arena, he could face challengers holding auction bid paddles, according to ESPN.

But the land auction itself might now become a problem. One source familiar with the process heard from some potential bidders that “didn’t want to be the ones that chased the Coyotes” out of the market.

“Now that the Coyotes have effectively chased themselves out of Arizona, that’s a prime piece of property. So I think there will be other bidders,” the source said.

Meruelo was asked by Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo whether there was a dollar amount that would be his maximum if other bidders want the piece of land at Scottsdale Road and the Loop 101.

“If other bidders show up, make sure you deposit your money, get your paddle and we’ll bid one against the other,” Meruelo said.

Shane Doan’s departure from Coyotes

Former Coyotes captain and long-time supporter Shane Doan held the title of chief hockey development officer but left the franchise after at one point being told he “wasn’t ready” for a promotion to president of hockey operations, according to ESPN.

His departure came right after the Coyotes lost the public Tempe vote to buy and develop arena land there.

Doan worked for the Coyotes after his retirement as chief hockey development officer but had higher aspirations, eventually seeking to become their president of hockey operations in 2023. According to a source, he was told he “wasn’t ready” for the position, a verdict handed down by the owner’s son Alex Meruelo Jr., the team’s chief brand officer who had taken a more active interest in the hockey operations department.

Doan ultimately left the franchise to join the Toronto Maple Leafs under general manager Brad Treliving, who had worked in Arizona during the captain’s playing days.

“The opportunity to work for the Coyotes was special and I didn’t take that lightly and I enjoyed it,” Doan told Burns & Gambo in June 2023. “There are certain teams that kind of embody the entire league, and there’s not very many of those,” Doan said. “…Toronto is that for the NHL and so to get the opportunity, it doesn’t come along very often and is unique and I was excited.”

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ESPN report details Coyotes’ move to Utah, Shane Doan’s departure