For all the discussion of movement, transplant and transfer, in the end, the Phoenix Coyotes will probably be going nowhere.
For all the exotic and clandestine locations the Coyotes were rumored, the Desert Dogs look to have found a permanent home right back in the Jobing.com Arena.
At least for the foreseeable future.
In a joint news conference prior to Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals versus the Nashville Predators in Glendale, AZ, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Greg Jamison, the preemptive new owner of the Coyotes, told the assembled media what advanced far beyond rumor.
Details are still to be finalized, but news that the Coyotes look to have a stable owner must be comforting, reassuring, and, most of all, a relief.
Jamison, the former CEO of the San Jose Sharks, will almost certainly take over a forlorn and bleak franchise, and attempt to pump out life and financial stability.
Given the Coyotes' success in the 2012 NHL playoffs, the former may not be difficult, but the latter will be the challenge.
For a franchise that did not start filling seats until the postseason, Jamison and his group have nothing short than a monumental task ahead.
Given the NHL ownership of the Coyotes the last three seasons, the league appeared concerned just to keep the franchise afloat and toe the party line in a sheer defiance to keep this franchise stable and in the desert.
In the news conference, though, Jamison hit two critical market segments that must be addressed. With a strong business acumen and a solid track record in turning the San Jose Sharks into a perennial winner, Jamison should bring a creative and imaginative approach to putting fans in the stands.
“There are two areas where I’d like to move,” Jamison said. “We need to attract business in the suites and partner with corporate sponsors.”
After the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg following last season, Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly collectively put forth every effort to keep the Coyotes in the desert.
With no announcement on potential buyers and the Glendale city council surreptitiously quiet, an eerie atmosphere followed the Coyotes throughout the 2011-12 season, and into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Questions and talk regarding the Phoenix Coyotes' fate constantly fell on deaf ears and silent tongues.
The NHL sent a quasi-deadline of late April to try and find a buyer. The business of setting next season’s schedule and other logistical questions permeated thinking, and sands were falling rapidly through the hourglass to meet that deadline.
Plus, Bettman admitted at the news conference that the NHL was simply a caretaker, and not innovator.
“On the business side, I am confident in having a full time owner focused on the business of the club,” Bettman said. “An owner in place can do much better than we’ve been able to do because we’ve been terribly hampered by the uncertainty of sponsors, season ticket holders, broadcasters. There’s only so much they’re going to be prepared to do in the face of uncertainty.”
For the city of Glendale, this appears to be a win-win situation.
Win, from the standpoint that the city can now hang onto a potential $25 million price tag instead of giving that to the NHL to maintain the franchise. Plus, the city can now negotiate with Jamison and his group, regarding arena ownership or rental, parking (there is currently no parking fee around Jobing.com Arena) and corporate sponsorship in various segments of arena operation.
The vote in the Glendale city council is expected soon to iron out these details, but the bottom line remains that the city appears absolved from protracted financial concerns of the past.
Jamison and Bettman collectively agreed the process of finding an owner is over, and the details of the sale from the league to Jamison's group, which said would be identified shortly, should be a smooth transition.
In this elongated scenario, Jamison had the last word.
“We have a group that is excited about going forward as new owners of the Phoenix Coyotes.” he said. “We have a group that cares deeply about the National Hockey League and cares deeply about hockey, they care deeply about youth hockey, and they look forward to being a part of this team and in helping to help this team continue to be successful.”
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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