NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is said to have told employees at the league's headquarters on Wedneday that they will only receive 80 per cent of their salary, starting Oct. 1. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press) (Arizona Coyotes)

Gary Bettman Goes To Bat For Arizona Coyotes Arena

Published On March 7, 2017 | By Jason Harrison | News

The Arizona Coyotes’ arena situation took another turn on Tuesday as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman issued a strongly worded letter to Arizona legislators.

When it comes to the Arizona Coyotes and their arena issues, Gary Bettman wants to make it clear he and the team’s ownership group mean business.

President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc has repeatedly said that Glendale is no longer a viable option moving forward.

Today, the NHL commissioner backed up that claim in a letter aimed at Arizona lawmakers regarding Senate Bill 1149. He didn’t exactly scorch the Earth, but he did make it clear where the team and league stand on the issue and at least one of the options in front of it.

“For the past 15 years, a succession of ownership groups and the League have tried everything imaginable to make the Glendale location financially sustainable. Our combined efforts have all yielded the same result—a consistent economic loss.

The simple truth? The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale.”

It’s not hard to catch the threat implied behind those two sentences.

Basically, work with us on a solution to the Glendale crisis or we will have to seriously consider alternatives — alternatives that the league and the team have desperately tried to avoid.

Coyotes Majority Owner, Chairman and Governor Andrew Barroway expounded on that process
and the implied threat in Bettman’s letter in his own comments.

He stated that it’s possible the team could “reach the point where there is simply no longer a path forward in Arizona. At that point, as the Commissioner indicated, we will work with our partners in the League office and across the NHL to determine our next steps.”

That isn’t likely to be anytime soon, however.

Don’t fret. The Coyotes aren’t moving just yet, and that includes out of state and to a new arena. There will be plenty more battles to come before all of that is decided.

In the meantime, Bettman has applied a little pressure to the state in the same way a manager might back up an employee. Bettman basically wrote the letter to say that the Yotes told you they weren’t staying in Glendale, and in case you didn’t believe them, well, you best be believin’ ladies and gentlemen.

Will it matter when Senate Bill 1149 comes to vote? Doubtful.

It was always going to range somewhere from hard to impossible for the Coyotes to receive public assistance of any kind with a new arena venture. Doubly so considering most outlets misreport the ask from ownership and where that money would come from.

Just a few months back, things appeared to be on the right track arena-wise after all these years. The Yotes had found their forever home, or so we thought.

That isn’t the case just yet.

For now, we wait and see what the major players do.

The ball is in the hands of Arizona legislators. If they decide to punt, we’ll be forced to see what plan ‘C’ is for “committed to Arizona”. There are still options out there, though they are perhaps less enticing than ownership and the NHL might prefer.

Whatever it is, let’s hope it has a better chance of succeeding than this public funding plan ever did.