NHL Announces Sale of Phoenix Coyotes to Group Led by Anthony LeBlanc
The National Hockey League announced on Monday that the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise to a group led by Anthony LeBlanc has been made official.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Aug. 6, by Ian Hanford
From AZCentral.com reporter Sarah McLellan:
Bettman: "It's my honor and pleasure to confirm something that isn't particularly a well-kept secret."— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) August 6, 2013
"This is a day we believed since the beginning," Bettman said.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) August 6, 2013
Sarah McLellan of AZCentral.com broke the news, and specified that the Board of Governors sealed the deal by approving of it earlier in the day, which effectively terminated league ownership:
Release notes sale closed earlier today after Board of Governors approved, which terminated league ownership.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) August 5, 2013
LeBlanc himself took to Twitter to express his enthusiasm about the new era:
Dear Coyotes fans, it's official and we are thrilled to be the owners of this wonderful franchise. Go Yotes! #heretostay— Anthony LeBlanc (@anthonydleblanc) August 5, 2013
IceArizona AcquisitionCo., LLC, is the group that LeBlanc led to gain ownership of the franchise. LeBlanc will become the new CEO of the organization.
It features several prominent business leaders from all around North America, according to a news release by the Coyotes' official website confirming the sale of the team.
The Coyotes' statement provides further details on the landmark agreement, including the gratefulness expressed by Phoenix's Chairman and Governor George Gosbee for finalizing the transaction:
We are extremely pleased to have finalized the transaction with the NHL and to take ownership of the Coyotes franchise. We extend our sincere gratitude to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly for their hard work and commitment to the Coyotes franchise and our great fans here in Arizona. We also thank the City Council members and residents of the City of Glendale for their tremendous support. Finally, to our fans and partners in the Valley, thank you for your continued loyalty, commitment and patience for the Coyotes. The future looks bright for our franchise.
That was followed by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's comments on the matter, as he thanked fans for their patience and lauded Phoenix as a market with a lot of potential. Bettman also resonated with confidence regarding the new ownership group:
The National Hockey League believes in Arizona as an NHL market and that these new owners can provide the Coyotes the opportunity to secure a stable, long-term future in Glendale. We thank Mike Nealy, Don Maloney, Dave Tippett, team captain Shane Doan and all the players and staff for consistently going "above and beyond" on behalf of the franchise during this long and complex process. We thank the Coyotes’ devoted fans for their patient, perseverant support. We are extremely pleased that a positive resolution has been achieved for the fans, the city, the Coyotes and the League.
Additionally, an extended statement from LeBlanc was documented following the closing of the deal, acknowledging that a lot of work needs to be done but that he and his associates can't wait to begin:
We are thrilled to be taking over a team led by one of the NHL’s best general managers in Don Maloney, one of the best coaches in Dave Tippett, and the league’s longest serving and most respected Captain in Shane Doan. The Coyotes are here to stay and we will continue to work hard on and off the ice and have a strong presence in our community. Our ultimate goal is to bring a Stanley Cup championship to our tremendously resilient, passionate and dedicated fan base here in the Valley. We have a lot of work to do and we can’t wait to get started.
After three consecutive trips to the playoffs—highlighted by an appearance in the Western Conference finals in 2011-12—the Coyotes failed to make the postseason in the most recent lockout-shortened campaign.
One area that hurt the Coyotes this past season was their lackluster performance in power-play situations. In converting only 17.8 percent of their own opportunities, Phoenix only killed off 79.9 percent of penalties successfully. They ranked just 25th in power-play percentage.
The team also struggled in the scoring department overall, ranking 21st in goals per game.
However, with promising young defenseman Keith Yandle—who topped the team with 30 points—and leading goal scorer and captain Shane Doan among the club'
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