Skip to main content


Insider Trading: Governors unanimously vote through 'hybrid' Coyotes sale to Utah

Insider Trading - April 18, 2024 Insider Trading - April 18, 2024

The NHL's Board of Governors approved the establishment of a franchise beginning with the 2024-25 season in Utah. In addition, a plan was approved that renders the Arizona Coyotes franchise inactive, with a right to reactivate if owner Alex Meruelo has fully constructed a new, state-of-the-art facility appropriate for an NHL team within five years. The TSN Hockey Insiders have more.

Governors unanimously vote through 'hybrid' Coyotes sale to Utah

Reda: They are the Insiders, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger. Gentlemen, it's official. The Board of Governors of the NHL has approved the relocation of the Coyotes to Salt Lake but this is no simple deal, Pierre.

LeBrun: Well in fact, the Coyotes name is not going to Salt Lake, you know, we'll get into that in a moment, and the fact the NHL doesn't view this as a traditional relocation, nor does it view it as expansion of course, but actually, as a hybrid solution in terms of Ryan Smith of the SEG group in Salt Lake spending $1.2 billion to get and own a hockey team from Alex Meruelo at Arizona. What he's buying are the hockey-related assets and the liabilities from Alex Meruelo. But within all that, there's $200 million that goes in terms of relocation fees to the other owners around the National Hockey League. I will say from speaking to a few governors, that the finances of this deal are a little more nuanced as far as when things get paid out. But that's it in a nutshell. Now, Gary Bettman and Bill Daly came to Alex Mereulo with this proposal on March 6, and they've been working day and night ever since to get this deal done. They didn't sign off on this officially in terms of the final documents until 2 a.m. last night, when all the parties signing is done in time for the vote today. 

Reda: And Pierre, the verbiage in the actual release on the day was very, very specific about the Coyotes franchise saying it's now inactive. It hasn't been officially taken away from them. Why was that wording so important in this release?

LeBrun: Right, the Coyotes franchise and its history and its brand remains in the hands of Alex Meruelo for the next five years in Arizona, as long as you know, he can build an arena. He can reactivate that franchise if he can build that rink within the next five years. And the price tag to reactivate the Coyotes within that time frame will be $1 billion. The money that you just got for selling so that's the deal that they've agreed to. I will tell you that, you know, I think both between Dregs and I, in talking to governors around the league, there's not that many that have confidence that Alex Meruelo will be able to pull this off. Does the NHL want to go back to Arizona? Yes, absolutely. I'm not sure it's going to be with Alex Meruelo as the owner. We'll see.  

Winnipeg Jets happy to help guide Salt Lake City through relocation

Reda: Alright, as this group of Coyotes now shifts to Salt Lake and Dregs, I see you shaking your head, they're taking the players and hockey-related management with them but they got a lot of work to do on the business side of things and they're looking for help north of the border, Dregs.

Dreger: Yeah, there's been conversation with the Winnipeg Jets. And we can appreciate why that would be when you look back to the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg back in 2011. Now, there's a lot of work that Ryan Smith in Salt Lake City has to get done. The advantage that they would have in Salt Lake City is that they do have the Utah Jazz, the NBA team. So there is an operational staff that's already in place. But Gino, I can tell you that operations people from Salt Lake City have already been in communication with operations staff in Winnipeg to talk to them about what they can expect in transitioning an NHL team, in this case Arizona to Salt Lake City, so I'm sure the lines of communication between Winnipeg and Salt Lake City will remain open as this relationship between those two franchises continues to grow. 

New owner Ryan Smith won't rush into a new team name

Reda: Some of these things just make me laugh at the way this unfolded. Even before the move became official, Ryan Smith was on social media asking fans what they'd like to see as a nickname for his team in case they were moving to Salt Lake. But we could now be in store for a long wait to find out what that name could be Pierre.

LeBrun: Yeah, so it's interesting and what Ryan Smith has decided, at least at the outset, is that he's not going to rush into naming this team in terms of its nickname. They're going to want to get a lot of fan, you know, reaction and ideas and they've hired a firm to look into the branding of the team and so on. And so at the outset, what they have decided is that the team will be called Utah and not Salt Lake City at the front of it. But they've not decided a nickname and they're ready to start next season without one which I know already was [said] on social media by some people as not being ideal, but it just shows you that they want to get this right when they do decide to name their team.

Planning for 2028 World Cup of Hockey will start soon

Reda: That would be something. Something else to look forward to down the road right now is best on best international hockey. We know the worlds are coming up shortly. But where are we in preparation for the Four Nations and the Olympics Dregs?

Dreger: Well, I can tell you that the National Hockey League, the Players' Association, the International Olympic Committee and the IIHF are meeting next week in Switzerland. Part of that is to clean up the agreements around the 2026 Winter Olympics and also the Four Nations in 2025. But here's something interesting. The National Hockey League and the Players Association want to begin in earnest with planning for the World Cup of Hockey in 2028. Now, the IIHF is in negotiations on a new contract with Infront, the managing company that handles the international events. But that negotiation is a struggle to say the least. The NHL wants to move forward, so does the Players Association, sooner rather than later, and the message next week will be if we need to go alone and plan it alone, 2028 World Cup of Hockey, we're going to do that.

Reda: So many negotiations on so many different fronts. I'm anxious for the playoffs to get started. They are the Insiders, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun.