Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo continues to embarrass NHL.

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo continues to embarrass NHL.

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has somehow managed to make things even worse for hockey fans in Arizona.

Jonathan Larivee

The Arizona Coyotes have officially been sold and in theory one of the biggest black eyes on the National Hockey League in recent years has been removed along with the dysfunctional franchise in the desert... but that isn't exactly true just yet.

On Friday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman participated in what must have been one of the most awkward press conferences of his lengthy tenure as the top executive in the league thanks to Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo. In a rare public appearance, Meruelo proceeded to validate just about all of the criticisms that have been levied in his direction during his ownership of the Coyotes franchise by dealing with the members of the media and their questions just about as poorly as he could have.

Meruelo quite literally admitted, during a press conference in front of a room packed with media members, that he did not like the media. The moment was so bad that commissioner Gary Bettman had to play defense for Meruelo and walk his comments back in one of the more awkward exchanges ever caught on camera between Bettman and an NHL owner.

I say one of the more awkward exchanges because perhaps the most awkward exchange Bettman has ever had with an owner would be captured during this press conference as well. At one point during the press conference, Bettman physically had to put his hand on Meruelo's arm to prevent him from continuing to speak.

"I got this," said Bettman while abruptly interrupting Meruelo.

It wasn't just a bad press conference either. Meruelo has also seemingly set his sights on relocating a second hockey team in this whole fiasco, with the Coyotes owner announcing earlier this week that he would be moving the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League into Mullet Arena, the now former home of the Arizona Coyotes.

The problem here is that, according to Coyotes insider Craig Morgan and his colleagues at PHNX Sports, Meruelo hasn't actually done any of the work that would be required to make that a reality.

"It's not certain," said Morgan. "It's not anywhere near... they still haven't spoken to ASU, haven't spoken to the city of Tucson about the 2 years remaining on their lease that would cost them $3 million plus to break."

Oh and it also sounds like, according to Morgan, the existing deal at Mullet Arena wouldn't even be eligible to be transferred over to the Roadrunners.

"The language of the deal with ASU that the Coyotes signed when they moved into Mullet Arena, it specifically stated the NHL team named the Arizona Coyotes," said Morgan. "It didn't say the Tucson Roadrunners. So what I was told by ASU sources is that this would have to be a seperate deal... you have to rework a new deal."

There's also the matter of approval from the AHL board of governors.

"Aside from that you've got to talk to the AHL," added Morgan. "You're gonna have a lot of problems playing at Mullet Arena."

The Coyotes may be gone, for now, but the problems and headaches that have become synonymous with the franchise don't appear to be going anywhere just yet.