The mention of this exclusive interview was first made public during the Phoenix Coyotes' January 31st game telecast on KAZT-TV when the Buffalo Sabres paid a visit to Jobing.com Arena. Many Coyotes fans took note and circled last night's date on the calendar.
National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman conducted a conference call with Coyotes television play-by-play announcer Dave Strader and color analyst Darren Pang on FOX Sports Arizona to basically set the record straight. Rampant speculation over the past two months had suggested the franchise has been in such dire financial distress that it could relocate for the second time in its history or simply be contracted from the league.
During last night's first intermission interview of the Coyotes' 5-4 road loss to the Detroit Red Wings, Bettman assured the fans that negotiations are ongoing to restructure the current arena lease, there are interested investors to become part of a major part of ownership and that an infusion of capital will help get the franchise through its current economic challenges.
"There's been a tremendous amount of speculation and commentary about the state of the Coyotes and most of it has been terribly unfair to the Coyotes, to the players and to the fans," Bettman told Strader and Pang. "Obviously, there are issues we're working on — getting some capital infusion for the club... possibly some new partners for Jerry Moyes or even a possible sale."
Bettman would not reveal any names of potential new investors, but Patricia Best in today's edition of The Globe and Mail in Toronto had already suggested Calgary businessman W. Brett Wilson may be interested, or at least he's being coy about it. It is not certain of whether or not Coyotes Majority Investor Jerry Moyes would retain a minor stake in the franchise or sell altogether.
While much of the talk of whether or not the Coyotes would survive even to the end of this season given how the team has been in the red for much of their existence in Phoenix, Bettman had some choice words for the skeptics.
"The reports of the franchise's demise are just ridiculous," Bettman added. "Jerry Moyes has been committed to Glendale and committed to the Coyotes. All of this blanket characterization of 'hockey doesn't work in the Sun Belt' is just hogwash. I think the Coyotes have a bright future on the ice."
See the video clip below for the entire interview. I plan to post a new blog entry that will have a more in-depth look at the state of the Phoenix Coyotes and provide an overview of the last few months in the coming days.
video courtesy: FOX Sports Arizona