GLENDALE, Ariz. - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy Bill Daly will meet with Glendale officials Monday to discuss the Phoenix Coyotes' arena lease and other issues related to the sale of the team.
The NHL has been looking for a local owner since a bankruptcy judge approved the league's bid, totalling US$140 million, for the financially ailing club on Nov. 2.
It's not clear whether the league will try to negotiate a new arena deal with Glendale or leave that to a new owner.
"That's something that's the right question, and I think that's something we have to discuss with the city of Glendale," Daly said before the Coyotes met the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena. "I think we both share the interest of how best to position this franchise for the sale, for a new owner. And if it's best positioned by us negotiating the lease with the city, maybe that's something we'll do. If they're more interested in dealing with the prospective owner, knowing who's coming in, that's also certainly a valid point of view."
Daly indicated that the NHL plans to work with Glendale throughout the sale process. The league and city banded together when former owner Jerry Moyes took the team into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 5, with a plan to sell it to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, contingent on moving the franchise to Hamilton.
"They've been our partners throughout this saga this summer," Daly said. "We've allied because I think we both have the same objective, which is to find an owner here in Glendale and secure the franchise's future here."
Daly said the NHL has had "a number of calls and meetings" with interested buyers, but he didn't provide details.
Daly said NHL officials would meet on Friday with representatives of Ice Edge, a group of investors from the United States and Canada.
"We'll continue down the path with them to see where it goes," Daly said.
Moyes contended that the NHL never will succeed in the desert, but the league says the team can make it with a better product on the ice. With 20 points, the Coyotes are off to the third-best start after 17 games in franchise history, but crowds at Jobing.com Arena remain sparse.
"Obviously, they lost some support among the fan base, and I think a lot of the fans are looking toward us to see whether we can commit to the long-term future of this franchise here in Glendale before they recommit to this franchise," Daly said.