Breaking: NHL officially approves relocation of Coyotes to Salt Lake City
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Breaking: NHL officially approves relocation of Coyotes to Salt Lake City

It's now official. All that's left to do is stick a fork in the Coyotes.



It's over.

It's finally... mercifully over.

According to a report from Phoenix sports insider John Gambadoro, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Muerelo are expected to confirm relocation of the Coyotes to Salt Lake City, Utah in the next 24 to 48 hours.

This means that the Coyotes will play their last game in franchise history on Wednesday evening.

From Gambadoro:

UPDATE: Sportico is now reporting that the NHL's Executive Committee has officially approved the relocation of the Coyotes to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Frm Sportico:

The NHL’s executive committee has approved the move of the Arizona Coyotes to Salt Lake City, several sources have told Sportico. The relocation vote now moves to the entire Board of Governors, which comprises all 32 teams.

The NHL has yet to respond for comment.

When the deal is completed, Arizona’s hockey operations department and players will be rebranded and relocated to Utah in time for the 2024-25 season at a cost of $1.2 billion.

In a complicated transaction, Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo is selling that part of the NHL franchise to Jazz owner Ryan Smith, but Meruelo will maintain the Coyotes’ name, logos and trademarks, plus ownership of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners.

He will continue to pursue building a $3 billion arena and entertainment project in North Phoenix, and in the event that’s accomplished, he will have the opportunity to resurrect the franchise. He has five years to do it.

Meruelo is set to receive $1 billion of the sale price with the remaining $200 million being paid to the NHL, which is brokering the deal. If the arena is built, Meruelo will pay the $1 billion back to the league in exchange for the rights to the expansion Coyotes.

If this doesn't confirm with 100% certainty that this team is done and cooked, I don't know what will. It certainly appears that Bettman and the NHL have finally given up hope on hockey working in the Arizona desert... for now, at least.

It remains to be seen if Muerelo will be able to build this mythic arena that he's been chasing since 2019, but given the history in Arizona I'm not optimistic. I really feel for the true Coyotes fans in Arizona, but the sad reality is that there's just not enough of them to make this franchise profitable. There's no shame in that, they're just not an NHL market. Look around Canada and you'll find cities like Quebec City, Hamilton, London, Saskatoon and Halifax that have a tremendous hockey culture and a ravenous fanbase... there just simply aren't enough of them. 

I don't profess to be an expert on Salt Lake City, so I don't know if the NHL will fare better there than they did in Arizona but it's clear to me that it's time for a fresh start for this team. It's been nearly 30 years and the Coyotes have been an abject failure for almost their entire existence. Enough is enough.

For all I know Salt Lake might be a terrible landing spot for this team, but it's hard to imagine they'll be worse off than they were in Phoenix. And again, this is no slight to the passionate hockey fans who live and breathe Coyotes hockey. I feel for you, I truly do. I'm a Canadian hockey fan who has lived through losing two franchises that I adored. One has returned and I suspect we're tapped out for NHL teams in the Great White North, so I'm holding on to everything we've got.

So long, Arizona/Phoenix Coyotes. It's been a slice.

Source: Sportico