NHL reaches tentative deal to sell Coyotes

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference to discuss the potential sale of the...

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference to discuss the potential sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Greg Jamison before the start of Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Nashville Predators in Glendale, Arizona. (GETTY)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:00 PM ET

GLENDALE, ARIZ. - The sale of the Phoenix Coyotes has been down this road before and a couple of times has wound up in the ditch.

But there is a growing feeling that this time a deal for the NHL to sell the club it has owned for three years to a group headed by former San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison will get done.

The two parties are working on an agreement in principal -- the selling price is expected to be $170 million U.S. -- and if Jamison can complete a lease and arena management deal with the city, it’s expected the sale could be finalized before the draft in June, according to sources.

There's still a lot that could go wrong, but the parties are optimistic this time around.

The last deal was scuttled by threatened litigation by the Goldwater Institute, a government watchdog which makes sure the state’s gift clause is not violated.

League commissioner Gary Bettman said he is confident this deal will pass Goldwater’s scrutiny.

“I can’t predict what third parties may do," said Bettman, who met with the media, along with Jamison, before Game 5 between the Coyotes and the Nashville Predators. "The last time we believed that the deal that had been constructed was permissible, was legally sound, but the mere threat that was issued is was what killed the deal because an essential component of the deal couldn’t be completed under the threat,”

“I assume everybody will do what they have to do when the time comes and we’ll deal with it, but the way this deal is structured is different than the way that deal was structured, so if there is third party interference, it won’t be something that shouldn’t stop us at the beginning, we should be able to proceed and hopefully prevail.”

Said the Goldwater Institute in a statement: “We are looking forward to reviewing the details of the deal when they are made public. We hope the new deal complies with the law and protects taxpayers by requiring the private parties involved to bear any related costs.”

Jamison said the principals in his group will be revealed later in the process and he’s confident they have a plan that will turn around a franchise that has lost about $30 million a season the last couple of years.

“You have to have goals," he said. "You have to believe that things can get accomplished. We firmly believe that we can continue on a path, a good path that has been started the last couple of years, and we want to build on that path.

"It is basically just good, hard work. It is exciting and this is a product we believe in. We want to thrive, continue to thrive here in Glendale. It really comes down to hard work, believing in a set of goals and executing them.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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