Coyotes Say Rumor of Team Being Sold, Moving to Houston Is 'Totally False'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 2, 2021

WINNIPEG, MB - NOVEMBER 29: Barrett Hayton #29, Lawson Crouse #67 and Dysin Mayo #61 of the Arizona Coyotes discuss strategy during a third period stoppage in play against the Winnipeg Jets at the Canada Life Centre on November 29, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)
Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes denied a Forbes report that suggested the NHL franchise is for sale and drawing interest from a potential buyer who would move the organization to Houston.

"This is false. Totally false," the Coyotes said in a statement to Craig Morgan of the NHL Network. "We're not selling. We're not moving. The Coyotes are 100 percent committed to playing in Arizona."

The future of the Coyotes has come into question since the city of Glendale announced in August it would not extend its lease agreement with the franchise to use Gila River Arena, which has served as the team's home ice since 2003.

In September, Kevin Reichard of Arena Digest reported the Coyotes released plans for a 16,000-seat arena that would serve as the core of a $1.7 billion development in Tempe.

That proposal isn't without issue, though.

First, the project has an estimated completion date in 2025, which would leave the team without an arena for the next three NHL seasons.

Second, officials from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport have stated the project could interfere with airport operations.

Alex Meruelo, the team's majority owner since 2019, hasn't commented on the Coyotes' arena plans since saying in June 2020 they hoped to have a plan in place by the end of last year. That didn't happen, and they're running out of time to finalize details by the end of 2021.

"We're committed to Arizona," Meruelo said last June.

The organization moved to Arizona in 1996 after 25 years as the Winnipeg Jets in the Canadian province of Manitoba. They were named the Phoenix Coyotes before rebranding to Arizona in 2014. The Jets returned to existence in 2011 via relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers, who debuted in 1999 as a new franchise.

On the ice, the Coyotes have been one of the NHL's worst-performing teams over the past decade and own the league's second-worst record this season with 12 points (5-16-2) through 23 games.

Arizona returns to action Friday when it hosts the Vegas Golden Knights at Gila River Arena.