Rumors continue to swirl about moves that would bring an NHL or NBA franchise to Seattle, if not both. Until Friday, it appeared that the most likely NHL team to relocate would be the Phoenix Coyotes, who are currently on the market and looking for a new owner.
On Friday, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times reported that a sale of the Coyotes was near, but it was a sale that would keep the franchise in Arizona. Phoenix reporter Dave Zorn then clarified that the sale was not a done deal but that the NHL had approved the purchasing group and the financing for a sale.
King-5 News reported on the sale, noting:
"Former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison has been approved by the NHL to purchase the Coyotes. Former Coyotes star, Jeremy Roenick, is reportedly part of Jamison's group. The Coyotes are no longer financially supported in Glendale, where they are losing money. Seattle sports fans saw the team as a potential tenant of the city's newly proposed NBA/NHL arena.
Members of the Phoenix Coyotes Coalition told KING 5 News they will celebrate when they hear it from the NHL, the current owners of the team. An announcement from the NHL is not expected until Monday at the earliest."
A report in the Arizona Republic elaborated:
For now, there are only whispers. But Jerry Colangelo hears potential buyers are "milling around." Former NHL star Jeremy Roenick said he's been approached by Greg Jamison, the former San Jose Sharks CEO who is trying to raise sufficient funds. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently said there's a third party involved, joining the Jamison Group and Chicago sports mogul Jerry Reinsdorf.
One source said this third party is not only very real, but extremely wealthy and spending serious money on due diligence. That's a great sign. And you can't help but notice the renewed faith in the voice of Coyotes coach Dave Tippett.
"We are still hoping for a good ending," Tippett said. "You look at what's happened over the last three years, and we've found a way to stay competitive. I think there's a ton of upside with this team (for any investor). We just have to find a way to get the deal done. Just like you guys, we hear the names. We hear the things that are going on behind the scenes. And hopefully we hear some good news soon."
Zorn really raised some eyebrows a short time later when he responded to a Twitter question by saying that Seattle was out of the running for the Coyotes, but that area fans should "keep an eye on the Islanders." He later reiterated his Islanders comment, saying, "Seattle isn't out of the woods for a team yet." Later still, he clarified that the New York Islanders owner wants out of the team, is unable to get funding for a new building and is having attendance issues.
The Islanders situation is intriguing for a number of reasons. The team has been around as the Islanders since 1972 and has a dedicated following, but are a very distant second in the market to the New York Rangers. They've won four Stanley Cups, but have not made it as far as the Conference Championships since 1984. If they are indeed a candidate to come to Seattle, it would raise the ire of a lot of diehards, but would be a franchise with a deep history for Seattle fans to rally around.
For complete coverage of the NHL situation in Seattle, please stay tuned to this StoryStream.