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Refusal to question Coyotes players: journalists muzzled
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

While I’m the first to say that what’s happening with the Coyotes is unacceptable, you have to admit that for the club’s fans, what’s happening is very sad. Even if there aren’t many of them.

In recent weeks, the Oakland A’s have confirmed that 2024 will be the organization’s last year in Oakland, and the Coyotes have been the subject of numerous rumours about a move to Salt Lake City.

Sports fans in Montreal (Expos) and Quebec City (Nordiques) are well placed to understand what the people of Oakland and Arizona are going through. Losing your team isn’t easy.

But if we learn that the Coyotes are heading to Salt Lake City as early as next week (some journalists are talking about April 18, which is seven days away), we’ll understand that it’s the right thing to do.

Why? Because the farce has gone on long enough.

Playing in a college arena and hoping that the project will continue for at least another three years (if the Coyotes manage to buy land to build a real arena) is ridiculous.

So it’s good to see that the move is being considered. And what better city (in the eyes of the NHL) to do it than Salt Lake City, which is in the midst of an economic boom.

But the problem is that behind these beautiful projects on paper, there are players with homes and families in Arizona. Leaving the desert to play in another environment (where it’s colder) is a big change.

Basically, the real problem is that we don’t know what the players think.

In fact, journalists didn’t even get a chance to talk to the players about the subject, since yesterday, after the Coyotes’ win over the Canucks, only one skater appeared before the cameras: Logan Cooley.

And the only person who could ask him questions was a member of the Coyotes TV crew. #ControlTheMessage #NoBallCurve

It’s the opposite of John Tortorella’s strategy after the game against the Habs, but the circumstances are obviously different. That said, it’s still crazy how much the NHL lets things slide with the Coyotes.

The players won’t be able to talk on Friday in Edmonton either.

That said, André Tourigny has spoken. He says that rumors are part of the game , and that the first time around, it led to a 14-game losing streak for his team.

Now, he’s happy to see his team beat Vancouver. He controls what he can.

Obviously, there are still details to be worked out, but expect the Coyotes to become the Salt Lake City club. What will the club be called? And will it be the Salt Lake Club, the Salt Lake City Club or the Utah Club?

There are bound to be implications throughout the NHL, especially among the players. Some would be willing to go to Arizona, but not necessarily to Utah because of the weather.

So how will partial no-trade clauses be managed?

Ultimately, the players had better get ready because it’s coming. It may seem like yesterday, but these things are often decided quickly.

Ryan Smith, who will no doubt buy the Coyotes to move them, made things public, but it was to help Gary Bettman put pressure on the Coyotes and to hide the Team Canada news.

He did what the commissioner wanted.

And in the short term, that’s going to leave the folks in Tempe empty-handed… but not completely. For one thing, even if the Coyotes leave, the AHL could still show up at Mullett Arena.

The Coyotes could move their club school there. You can’t make this stuff up.

But then you have to wonder if the NHL will ever return to Arizona. Renaud Lavoie doesn’t think so, as he said this morning on BPM Sports, but many people do.

Elliotte Friedman raised the possibility that Alex Meruelo, the Coyotes’ current owner, could be assured of an expansion team if he can get his arena built. Not closing the door on the Coyotes? Now that’s the Gary Bettman we know.

If the deal goes through, Meruelo will sell his club for a very high price: $1.2 or $1.3 billion, including moving costs.

We’ll see how it pans out, but for now, it’s all about seeing what the Coyotes do in the coming weeks. That will be crucial.

In bursts

– Good question.

– Already?

– What do you think?

– André Roy: John Tortorella has lost his dressing room. [LPB]

– Read more.

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