This could be the final season at Jobing.com Arena for the Phoenix Coyotes.
With just over one month before training camp, the Phoenix Coyotes’ scenario sounds most repetitive.
No, there is no sale to Greg Jamison and his group at this point, and no, there is no movement on signing free-agent captain Shane Doan.
The “bottom line” right now is Jamison, former CEO of the San Jose Sharks, remains no closer to acquiring the team than when he was first introduced to the Phoenix media during the Nashville Stanley Cup series nearly four months ago.
The Phoenix Business Journal reported Jamison and his group, yet to be identified, as $20 million short of the NHL’s acting price of $170 million for the franchise. That’s just the cost to take the franchise off the hands of the NHL but does not include additional revenue to sign players or operate the franchise.
At the time he was introduced, along with NHL commission Gary Bettman at a news conference during the Nashville series, Jamison said he would implement immediate changes.
First, he indicated there would be extensive selling of suites, which ring the lower concourse of the arena and now for the most part remain vacant, engaging corporate sponsors, more visible involvement in the community and creating a better transportation network to get hockey fans from the far reaches of the Phoenix metropolitan area to games at Jobing.com Arena, located in the west side of the greater metro region.
That’s all well and good, but Jamison, at this point, is no closer to gaining control of the team than he was months ago when his name first surfaced as heading a potential group of buyers.
Which brings us to the continuing saga of Doan, who has expressed his desire, several times since the Coyotes season ended in late May, to remain in the desert. At this point, Doan appears to be in no hurry to sign on the dotted line because the offers, one reported from an Eastern Conference team at $30 million, will be there.
While his agent Terry Bross tells the Phoenix media that sands are rapidly falling through the hour glass, Doan, for his part, does not publicly project “a sense of priority” persona. While Los Angeles, Vancouver and Montreal are the three clubs most prominently mentioned in the Doan sweepstakes, Doan himself has only indicated his desire to remain with Phoenix, the only franchise for whom he played since entering the NHL with Winnipeg for the 1995-96 season and then moving with the club to Phoenix the next season.
Doan has spent all 16 years in the NHL with the same franchise and expressed a desire not to relocate his family.
Aside from Doan, coach Dave Tippett and general manager Don Maloney, who essentially have done a remarkable job with no budget and marginally talented players, enter the remaining year of their contracts with Phoenix.
Plus, goaltender Mike Smith, whom Tippett called the team’s MVP last season, is also entering the final year of his obligation to Phoenix. While Maloney said he would like to sign Smith to an extension, there remains no movement here, as with Doan, on any contract expansion.
At this point, the NHL is committed to the Coyotes for the coming season in the desert and will likely foot the bill. The city of Glendale, which paid the NHL $25 million this past season, said it will not commit another $25 million for the team’s operation in 2012-13.
If Jamison’s group fails to come up with the additional $20 million the NHL currently demands, the scenario is not difficult to understand.
First, Doan walks, and that clearly compromises the integrity of the franchise. Tippett, Maloney and Smith, collectively, honor the final year of their Phoenix contracts and then walk, the current fragile fanbase crumbles and the team relocates after the 2012-13 season.
End of the NHL in the American southwest.
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.