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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bettman threatens to relocate Coyotes

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NEW YORK -- The NHL is threatening to relocate the Phoenix Coyotes if Glendale city council doesn't approve a new arena deal for the franchise by July 2.

That was commissioner Gary Bettman's strong stance Thursday after a board of governors meeting that included an update on the Coyotes' situation but not much else in the way of progress, as the league waits on the process in Arizona.

Renaissance Sports & Entertainment has agreed to buy the team, but everything is contingent on an arena management deal getting done.

"If the council doesn't approve it so that this transaction can close, I don't think the Coyotes will be playing there anymore," Bettman said.

Strengthening his position from the Stanley Cup final -- the original target for the city of Glendale to finish the deal -- Bettman explained that the NHL has "lots of options" if the Coyotes must relocate, even if that plan B hasn't yet been ironed out.

"I find it difficult to conceive of why, if the council turns this down, we would want to keep the team in Glendale any longer," Bettman said. "And so we will then, if they turn it down, have to deal with the possibilities and the options that will be available to us, and they are numerous."

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly didn't want to get into specific cities that could get the Coyotes if keeping the team in Glendale doesn't work out. Asked specifically about Seattle's Key Arena, he said it could house an NHL team. Asked about Quebec City being an option, Daly said, "I wouldn't rule it out."

"I think we tried to be clear that obviously there are a number of alternatives, and we have to decide which one is best for us in the short term," Daly said.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 28, 2013 C6

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