WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said he doesn’t believe the Phoenix Coyotes will return to the franchise’s birthplace – but he does expect another NHL franchise may very well wind up in the Manitoba capital.
Speaking to reporters outside his office this afternoon, Katz urged Winnipeg hockey fans not to believe every rumour they hear about the NHL’s return. He urged fans to discount all rumours about an imminent announcement at Portage & Main.
Katz said Winnipeg is ready and able to support an NHL team, but this ability allows the city to be used by the NHL to ramp up pressure on other markets. The mayor went on to say he did not believe the Phoenix Coyotes will return to Winnipeg, noting there may be other options available.
The NHL is trying to hammer out a deal to sell the Phoenix Coyotes to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer. The league has owned the team for two years, but its efforts to sell the club to Hulsizer have stalled in recent months, primarily due to a successful campaign by Arizona taxpayer watchdog the Goldwater Institute, which opposes payments from the City of Glendale to Hulsizer.
A spokesman for Katz later said the mayor has long maintained he believed a club other than the Coyotes would be a more likely option for Winnipeg.
Katz did not outright name the Atlanta Thrashers.