NHL wants to announce Coyotes sale next week

On this edition of Saturday Headlines, Elliotte Friedman discusses the desire to announce the Arizona Coyotes' relocation this week, the Oilers saying Connor McDavid will be ready for the playoffs, and much more.

It’s down to crunch time for the NHL as it tries to complete the sale of the Arizona Coyotes to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next weekend.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on Saturday Headlines on Hockey Night in Canada that the league hopes to announce the transaction on Thursday or Friday.

“The way it sounds right now, I think there’s a real desire to announce this Thursday or Friday,” Friedman said. “But a desire and the ability to do it are two different things. The next few days will be critical to either closing it or getting everybody into a position where they’re comfortable enough to do it and legally protected enough to do it even if it’s not fully closed.”

While a piece of Phoenix land where the Coyotes hope to build an arena was confirmed to be going up for auction earlier this month, the June 27 auction date was too late for the NHL to be comfortable. The league didn’t want the Coyotes to spend a third season at tiny Mullett Arena.

“It was just too long and too uncertain,” Friedman said.

“About a month ago, (commissioner) Gary Bettman and (deputy commissioner) Bill Daly met with the Coyotes ownership and said ‘Look it’s time, you’re going to be allowed to pursue the new arena for Coyotes 2.0, but we’re in position where we can’t allow this particular (version) of the team to continue any longer’ and they got to work on this process.”

Friedman said current Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo now will have five years to prove he can build a new arena, and then be granted an expansion franchise.

“Meruelo has said he is determined to do that,” Friedman said.

But these Coyotes are going to Smith for $1.2 billion, Friedman said, with the league making the sale.

Still to be determined is what happens with the team’s AHL affiliate, which currently plays in Tucson, Ariz. Meruelo would like to move the AHL team to Mullett Arena, Friedman said.

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