PHOENIX – NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is trying to help the financially struggling Phoenix Coyotes and called reports of the franchise’s demise “ridiculous” on Wednesday night.
Bettman did a telephone interview with Coyotes television announcers Dave Strader and Darren Pang after the first period of Phoenix’s game at Detroit.
Team owner Jerry Moyes has been seeking buyers for the Coyotes, who reportedly are losing more than US$30 million per year.
With the NHL’s help, the team is attempting to renegotiate its Jobing.com Arena lease with the city of Glendale in an apparent effort to make the deal more attractive to potential buyers.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of speculation and commentary about the state of the Coyotes and most of it has been terribly unfair to the Coyotes, to the players and to the fans,” Bettman said. “Obviously, there are issues we’re working on – getting some capital infusion for the club … possibly some new partners for Jerry Moyes or even a possible sale.”
Bettman would not disclose the names of any potential financial partners for the Coyotes but said “we’re working on bringing this to a conclusion by season’s end.”
Bettman also said the NHL “has a good track record” of helping other struggling teams get financially healthy again and dismissed speculation that the Coyotes would be relocated.
“The reports of the franchise’s demise are just ridiculous,” he said. “Jerry Moyes has been committed to Glendale and committed to the Coyotes. All of this blanket characterization of ‘hockey doesn’t work in the Sun Belt’ is just hogwash. I think the Coyotes have a bright future on the ice.”