May 21, 2024

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Sources – Coyotes players tell the team is moving to Utah

Sources – Coyotes players tell the team is moving to Utah

Arizona Coyotes players were informed on Friday that the team will move to Utah, sources told ESPN, confirming a report by PHNX Sports.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong met with players before their game against the Edmonton Oilers to confirm what has been rumored all week: that the NHL is facilitating a sale to Ryan and Ashley Smith, owners of the Utah Jazz. The Coyotes will begin playing there next season.

The NHL and Smith are working on a deal, but sources told ESPN on Friday evening that nothing had been done yet, and there was a lot of work to be done before a deal could be completed.

An announcement is expected next week, at the conclusion of the NHL regular season, sources told ESPN. Coyotes players and staff will be invited to visit Salt Lake City after the end of the season to check out the city and facilities.

Coyotes players were not available for Friday night's 3-2 overtime win over Edmonton and coach Andre Tourigny said he would only take questions about the game.

“This team has been through a lot of adversity,” Tourigny said. “The first time the rumors came out, we didn't handle it well and shot ourselves in the foot, losing 14 games in a row. “Our guys show how proud they are, how much they care about each other.” “How much they want to succeed with each other. “It's great to feel that, it's great to see them cheering each other on and pushing in the same direction like that.”

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The plan is for the team to play at the Delta Center, which is owned by Smith and is also home to the NBA's Jazz. However, sources told ESPN that the NHL has made it clear to Smith's team that a hockey-specific upgrade is needed at the Delta Center in order for it to become the team's permanent home.

Smith already has government support. A bill has been approved in the Utah State Senate to help fund a revamped downtown entertainment district in anticipation of an NHL franchise. The bill has already received approval from Utah Governor Spencer Cox.

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has been seeking for years to find a permanent home for his club, which has been temporarily playing its home games at Arizona's Mullett Arena. Meruelo has eyed a plot of land in the Phoenix area and intends to win a state-run land auction on June 27. However, according to sources, the NHL became skeptical of the schedule and decided it needed a better solution for next season.

The NHL is interested in returning to Arizona in the future and would leave the door open for Merello to own the team.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.