Coyotes players finally open up and slam both the team's owner and Gary Bettman
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Coyotes players finally open up and slam both the team's owner and Gary Bettman

Talking some trash on their way outta town!



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 when they take on the Edmonton Oilers.

From Gambadoro:

Coyotes fans are certainly preparing for a send off tomorrow evening and they're even asking any Oilers fans in attendance to don white clothing so that the team can experience one final 'whiteout'.

Check it out:

For those unaware, the Coyotes (and previously the Winnipeg Jets 1.0) were famous for hosting 'whiteouts' during playoff games where everyone in attendance wears white.

Check it out:

Meanwhile, the Coyotes are back at their practice facility before tomorrow night's season/franchise ending game against the Edmonton Oilers. And it appears that the Coyotes are taking one final parting shot at the NHL and commissioner Bettman before they leave for good.

Check out this letter hung outside the team's locker room earlier today:

For the uninitiated:

Really though... should we be surprised that the Coyotes players are finally starting to show how they really feel about things? These guys have been strung along for weeks now and, presumably, they've been placed under a gag order so that they don't say anything stupid to the media. Behind closed doors the players are more than happy to talk though. 

NHL insider Frank Seravalli was on the Spittin' Chiclets podcast earlier today and he reported that several Coyotes players have told him just how happy they are to be leaving Arizona.

From Seravalli:

"I talked to one player over the weekend who said, 'Who in their right mind is sad to leave? We've got the worst plane, we've got the worst hotels, the worst food, our staff has the worst budget. We can't get anything done... we feel like we're playing in a league other than the NHL. How do we find a way to just have different vibes, different energy?"

- Frank Seravalli

Honestly, I'm waiting for the 'behind the scenes' tell-all stories that come after this team has finally left Arizona.

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: Frank Seravalli