No deadline for Coyotes sale: Bettman

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:53 PM ET

CHICAGO — Could the seemingly never-ending saga of the Phoenix Coyotes sale be coming to a close?

Definitely … maybe, according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

“I think we’re closer to the end of the process than we’ve ever been, but we’re not there yet. My hope is it all works out and the Coyotes stay out there,” Bettman said Monday in Chicago prior to the Blackhawks playoff game against Vancouver.

“The process continues. There is much that has to be done with the city of Glendale, both by the league and with the prospective owner, and it’s something we continue to work on.”

Jerry Reinsdorf, who owns the MLB’s Chicago White Sox and is chairman of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, is working through the ongoing process to purchase the Coyotes from the NHL, which ran the organization this season after previous owner Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy with the club.

Bettman said he’s not prepared yet to put a deadline on the completion of the sale, although the sooner, the better since the club could use the momentum gained from making the playoffs, as well as allow GM Don Maloney to build the club for next season.There are 12 free agents, eight of whom are unrestricted

“At some point, I will, but not tonight,” Bettman said of any impending deadline to complete the deal. “The things take time, and time is not unlimited, but I’m not yet ready to set a deadline.

“The building was full for the last four regular-season games and all the playoff games, so — aha — there are fans in Arizona who like hockey, and, despite all the speculation the building’s in the wrong place and people don’t know how to get there, people managed to find the … arena.

“I think with new ownership and the right things, there’s now a good foundation for the franchise to build from. Hopefully, we’re in a position to put it all together so the team can stay put.”

Bettman was on hand for the Game 2 playoff series clash at the United Center.

With the season nearing it’s completion, he said the revenue-impacted salary cap would be “flat or maybe up a tad” for next season.

This season’s cap was US$56.8 million.

The Canadian dollar’s climb to nearly par with the U.S. buck has helped the cause through tough economic times in North America.

“I’ve seen these projections we’ll be down 20% because of the economy, not true. We’ll probably be up a little to flat. I don’t think we’ll be down,” Bettman said.

The commissioner also said the league will look into the impact the Olympic tournament had on players and teams. He’s asked GMs to report the tournament’s affects on their team and players, as well as looking into the impact on attendance and TV viewership.

“For future Olympics, it’s a balancing act,” he said. “And since we’re not under any time pressure, we’re going to have plenty of time to analyze and get comfortable with the pros and cons.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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