Coyotes players informed the team is expected to move to Salt Lake City, AP source says


Arizona Coyotes players have been informed the NHL club is expected to relocate to Salt Lake City, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.

General manager Bill Armstrong flew to Edmonton, Alberta, to tell players about the team’s potential move to Utah before its game against the Oilers, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the decision has not been announced.

Players and officials could visit Salt Lake City next week, possibly as soon as after the season finale Wednesday, which could be the final game at 5,000-seat Mullett Arena in Tempe.

The news comes amid buzz that Ryan Smith, owner of the NBA's Utah Jazz, has been working to acquire an NHL team, a move that could include the league buying the Coyotes from Alex Meruelo and flipping it. Smith earlier this week solicited name ideas for a possible team in Salt Lake City, and the league has been working on two different drafts of the 2024-25 schedule based on the franchise playing in Arizona or Utah.

The Smith Entertainment Group in January said was interested in bringing a hockey team to Salt Lake City and had the immediate ability to facilitate that, playing in the Delta Center until a new arena could be built. That announcement included the request to initiate an expansion process.

But it also was conspicuously timed near the midway point of the season and without a long-term home for the Coyotes in Arizona. Last year, an arena referendum in Tempe failed, and in recent weeks the team said it was committed to winning a land auction for a potential arena site in Phoenix.

Even if that auction succeeds, it could lead the NHL back to the desert later this decade. NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh had repeatedly expressed concerns about the current situation, playing in a small arena on Arizona State's campus, which was one possible home for the team until a new building was constructed.



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