The New York Post reported late Tuesday night that the Arizona Coyotes were being sold to billionaire Bill Foley and moved to Las Vegas for the 2016-17 season.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, well, refuted the report.
"The Post was told the story was completely untrue. They ran it anyway. The story is garbage. Team is staying put,” said Bettman, via Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona.
Anthony LeBlanc also offered a strong denial. "The article in the Post is 100 percent false. No truth to it whatsoever. I'm not an unidentified source, I'm a principal, so I think I should know."
Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner, sounded the same tone with a statement to TSN:
“The most ridiculous and irresponsible story I’ve ever been associated with. (The idea) has never been contemplated or discussed. Not even notionally.”
The report comes at an interesting time for both the Coyotes and hockey in Vegas.
The Coyotes are embroiled in yet another battle with the City of Glendale, this time over an arena lease agreement the city council voted to cancel. The common thought was that the move, based on a conflict of interest technicality, was a way to strong-arm the Coyotes back to the negotiating table to work out a new lease more favorable to the city.
Meanwhile, owner Andrew Barroway, who was thought to give the team stronger financial footing as majority owner, stepped back his role in the ownership group.
As for Vegas, the NHL begins a formal expansion process in July, accepting bids from potential new League cities like Seattle, Quebec City and Las Vegas, which has over 13,000 season-ticket commitments from non-corporate parties.
One common thought was that the NHL wanted to have expansion teams in Las Vegas and Seattle, with the ante for new franchises set at $500 million. A place like Quebec City could be used for a relocated franchise, as the NHL might hesitate to move a struggling franchise to Vegas and then have to move it again if the team doesn’t catch on.
But according to the NHL, the Coyotes aren’t headed to Vegas. Or anywhere else.
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