It's official, Gary Bettman announces the relocation of the Coyotes
Gino Hard  

It's official, Gary Bettman announces the relocation of the Coyotes

It's finally done. Full details from Bettman's announcement today.



UPDATE: It's official. The Arizona Coyotes are no more.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has announced that the Coyotes are officially 'inactive' with an opportunity to return to the league as an expansion franchise if "owner Alex Meruelo has fully constructed a new, state-of-the-art facility appropriate for an NHL team within five years."

In the meantime, the Coyotes have been sold to the NBA's Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith who was acquired the Coyotes' existing hockey assets – including its full Reserve List, roster of Players and draft picks and its Hockey Operations Department.

“As everyone knows, Utah is a vibrant and thriving state, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a prepared statement. “We are also delighted to welcome Ashley and Ryan Smith to the NHL family and know they will be great stewards of the game in Utah. We thank them for working so collaboratively with the League to resolve a complex situation in this unprecedented and beneficial way.

“The NHL’s belief in Arizona has never wavered. We thank Alex Meruelo for his commitment to the franchise and Arizona, and we fully support his ongoing efforts to secure a new home in the desert for the Coyotes. We also want to acknowledge the loyal hockey fans of Arizona, who have supported their team with dedication for nearly three decades while growing the game.”

NHL insider Pierre LeBrun has reported that Smith and his group will take their time naming the new franchise, but they will be using the moniker 'Utah' over 'Salt Lake City'.

“We are honored to bring an NHL team to Utah and understand the responsibility we have as stewards of a new NHL franchise,” said Ryan and Ashley Smith, owners of Smith Entertainment Group. “This is a transformative day for our state and our fans. Our intention had always been to pursue an expansion team. Commissioner Bettman conceived and proposed an ingenious plan that would allow us to acquire an NHL franchise while also helping to address and remedy an immediate need of the NHL. When he approached us and asked us for help resolving this situation, we made the bold decision to introduce a new franchise in Utah, fully understanding that we are stepping up to do something in a time frame and way that has never been done before in professional sports under these circumstances.

“We are committed to building a Stanley Cup contending team and are thrilled to welcome incredible players, coaches, staff, and their families to Utah. Today is a great day for Utah, for hockey, and for building a legacy that will have a lasting impact for generations to come,” the Smiths continued.

“I agree with Commissioner Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League, that it is simply unfair to continue to have our Players, coaches, hockey front office, and the NHL teams they compete against, spend several more years playing in an arena that is not suited for NHL hockey,” said Arizona Coyotes Chairman & Governor Alex Meruelo. “But this is not the end for NHL hockey in Arizona. I have negotiated the right to reactivate the team within the next five years, and have retained ownership of the beloved Coyotes name, brand and logo. I remain committed to this community and to building a first-class sports arena and entertainment district without seeking financial support from the public.”

Read below for our earlier report on the Coyotes, from last night's final game.

It's all over for the Arizona Coyotes. 

For better or worse, this team is done in the Arizona desert and will pack up for Salt Lake City, Utah next season.

The Coyotes franchise is officially leaving the Arizona market after 28 tumultuous years and last night both the players and the fans got one final send off.

The Coyotes managed a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Tempe's 5,400 capacity Mullett Arena, but it's hardly the game action that anyone was talking about afterwards. No, it was the on ice farewell celebrations that took place after the final buzzer. The entire Coyotes franchise seemingly spilled out onto the ice to take in the gravity of it all, giving us a few special moments to share.

Check it out:

Once everyone was off the ice, things spilled into the back parking lot:

The most touching part of the evening though, was also one of the most frustrating moments of the evening. Longtime Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who had his #19 retired by the team in 2019, was reunited with the #19 banner after it had reportedly been thrown in the trash by the team during their move from Glendale's Gila River Arena. An arena worker discovered the banner and managed to grab it before it was destroyed. Last night he returned it to Doan at Mullett Arena.

The Coyotes were reportedly contacted by reps at Gila River Arena after they were evicted from the building, but they simply never showed up to collect their things. In other words, the Coyotes were awful tenants who not only failed to pay their bills, but they left their junk behind too.

In any case, you have to feel for Doan here. You know he's just trying to put on a brave face during this interaction but to know that the team he poured his heart and soul into didn't care one ounce for his banner really tells you all you need to know about this franchise and how it was run.

On the TNT broadcast, former Coyotes player and staff member Paul Bissonnette gave an emotional eulogy for the team that he loves.

Check it out:

Honestly, I feel for the hardcore Coyotes fans out there. There obviously just weren't enough hardcore fans to make things work in Arizona, but that doesn't make the real ones any less real. As a Canadian hockey fan who has watched two of my favorite franchises come and go, I can sympathize with Coyotes fans. The fact is that you deserved better than what the Coyotes and its rag tag collection of owners served up. This team never really had stability in the market and they suffered in all ways because of it. When the team was good and they were stationed in downtown Phoenix, times were good... but that was over 20 years ago. Since then the team has struggled to find its footing and has bled tens of millions of dollars. The move to Glendale was disastrous, but not nearly as disastrous as the pitiful Tempe pitch that owner Alex Meruelo fumbled. 

Meruelo, by the way, neglected to show up for last night's game. The final game in his team's history.

Doesn't that just say it all right there?

Finally, the Coyotes' last broadcast ended with a very touching moment from long time Coyotes host Todd Walsh.

Check it out:

RIP, Arizona Coyotes.