Gary Bettman forced to break silence on Arizona relocation

Bettman's stubborn pet project is finally over.

Michael W.

The news became official earlier this week - the Arizona Coyotes are no more, and they'll be relocating to Salt Lake City, Utah for the start of next season. 

It brings an end to what was truly a tumultuous tenure in the desert that was marred by no shortage of public embarrassments, not the least of which was being relegated to a secondary tenant in a 4,600 seat college rink.

For NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who has stubbornly worked tirelessly to keep the Coyotes in Arizona, he was forced to swallow his pride and admit that it just wasn't feasible to continue. In an interview with Sportsnet, Bettman stated that it became more and more obvious that playing in Mullett Arena for the foreseeable future wasn't fair to the Coyotes players and their NHL opponents. 

"We first concluded that as much as we've been committed to Arizona, the prospect under the best circumstances of playing in a college rink for another 3-5 years just wasn't fair to the players and frankly, wasn't fair to the other teams and the League," Bettman explained. "And while Alex Meruelo, the owner of the Coyotes, is committed to building a new arena, he ultimately agreed that it was in everyone's best interest that the Coyotes become inactive and that we start a new franchise in Utah and ship over the hockey operations department and the players." 

Salt Lake City is already home to the NBA's Utah Jazz, and the incoming yet-to-be-named franchise will be their second major professional team. 

"Utah works for a whole host of reasons, starting with ownership, who has stepped up very publicly about wanting a franchise and made very serious noise to us about wanting to do it and were prepared to step up and help in the short term," Bettman said. "This is not going to be easy, but they're going to accomplish a lot over the summer. And Utah is a terrific, fast-growing market, and the unemployment is slow, the growth is great. And when it comes to winter sports, Utah is terrific."

All of the things came together....all of the pieces came together quickly, because literally we only started working on this in a serious way to get it done a month ago." 

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Source: Sportsnet