Arizona Coyotes players told team is relocating to Salt Lake City, reports say

Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong flew to Edmonton to address the team about relocation rumors ahead of the game against the Oilers Friday night, and multiple reports said he told players that the team was moving.

A report on Sportsnet Friday evening, citing "several sources,'' said Armstrong informed the team it would relocate to Salt Lake City and the move would be official after the team's season finale at Mullett Arena on Wednesday. The report said Armstrong told the team it would have a chance to check out the new location after the final game.

ESPN also reported that the team was told about the move.

The Coyotes were in Vancouver on Wednesday when it first broke that the NHL is drafting two versions of the team's schedule for next season, with one to be played in Salt Lake City at Delta Center, the home of the NBA's Utah Jazz, according to Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli. The other schedule was at Arizona State's Mullett Arena, while the current ownership group tries to win a public land auction in Phoenix for a permanent home.

Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong told players that the team was relocating, according to reports.
Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong told players that the team was relocating, according to reports.

Head coach André Tourigny addressed the team that day and told them they had another chance to not let it affect their performances after the initial reports about Salt Lake City began in late January and resulted in a 14-game losing streak.

Forwards Clayton Keller and Lawson Crouse, two of the team’s longest-tenured players, were made available during the team’s morning skate in Edmonton. Both have dealt with a fair share of relocation rumors.

“We’ve just tried to focus on hockey and since I’ve played in Arizona, there’s always been a lot of rumors, so we try to do as best we can to try and focus on hockey,” Keller said. “It was definitely in our heads. You can say it’s not a distraction, but buddies, family, people are always texting and keep putting it in your head. (Tourigny) said we had another opportunity to deal with the same thing and learn from our past mistakes.”

Keller said the leadership group made up of Crouse, Nick Schmaltz and himself has been working with the newer players in dealing with the outside noise. The entire team knows as much as the public does and found out the news through social media.

“We saw it everywhere just like everyone, but we don’t know anything more than what everyone else is seeing. We’re just worried about tonight and controlling what we can control and that’s all we can think about,” Crouse said.

There are still unknowns about the future of the franchise. Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reported on Friday that the sale will be officially announced on April 18, the day after the Coyotes finish the regular season at home against the Oilers.

“My wife texted me and said, You’ve coached for 30 years and we thought we had seen everything, we were both wrong,” Tourigny said. “At the end of the day, my job is to coach a team. My job is not to do politics, not to look at what will happen next year. I’m not saying I’m not a human being, I am. But our job is to focus on to control what we can control.”

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Coyotes relocating to Salt Lake City, per reports