Gary Bettman reveals his “biggest disappointment”

Gary Bettman reveals his “biggest disappointment”

Bettman fought hard to keep the Coyotes in Arizona, but they're on the way to Utah.

Michael W.

With the Arizona Coyotes set to move to Salt Lake City, the pet project for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who stubbornly fought to keep the failing franchise alive at all costs, has finally come to an end. 

Bettman began his remarks today alongside Alex Meruelo stating that today is a "difficult" one and that he sympathizes with the fans of the Coyotes who are losing their team. 

"Let me start by saying that days like today are difficult and they're sad," he said. "I sympathize with and understand and feel sorry about what the fans of the Coyotes are going through, and I respect that. I feel badly about that. But I think if you look back from a League perspective from almost the last three decades, the NHL's support for hockey in the desert has been unwavering, to say the least. 

For anybody who's been on that journey with us, there are countless times we could have made another decision and we didn't, so I hope everyone understands that this is a place that we believe hockey works. But we find ourselves here today under difficult circumstances because when the Coyotes moved into Mullett and have played two seasons there, the belief was that this was going to be temporary - three years."

Bettman went on to state that had the Coyotes extended their stay at Mullett Arena into a 4th season, it would have been worth it had a new NHL-worthy facility be under construction. 

"Even if there was a 4th year, if a building was coming out of the ground, people would understand and be excited and we'd get through it," he said. "But as things have played out and with the next step, it became clear to me that not only had the timeline stretched, but we were still dealing with uncertainty because there's still an auction to be had....we were facing, under a best case scenario, anywhere between three and five years more at Mullett." 

Bettman then disclosed that his biggest disappointment in the entire saga of the Coyotes was that the public referendum for a new arena and entertainment district in Tempe was rejected by the voters.

"Even though it's not a regret, my biggest disappointment is that the referendum failed in Tempe," he said. "I've never seen a more public/private win-win then that was, not the least of which, the landfill is still there and will be there for a long time. There was an opportunity to be funded privately to clean it up. Of all the things we had to deal with for the last 27 years, I felt that was the most disappointing." 

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