Can the Coyotes finally prove that they can attract fans and sponsors under new ownership? (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
By Sarah Kwak
After more than four years of operating under NHL ownership and multiple failed purchase attempts, the Phoenix Coyotes were officially sold Monday. Now, finally, they are somebody else’s problem. And those people are the IceArizona Acquisition Co., a group of 11, led by Chairman George Gosbee and pending CEO Anthony LeBlanc, who will now assume control of the beleaguered franchise.
To say the least, it has been a long and tortured journey for the Coyotes since former owner Jerry Moyes filed bankruptcy in 2009. No fewer than five ownership groups tried and failed to purchase the club, and every discussion seemed to be cast under the question of the long-term survivability of an ice hockey team in the desert.
Well, while the players flourished on the ice, making the playoffs for three straight seasons beginning 2010 and reaching the Western Conference final in 2012, the off-ice uncertainty continued to be a dark cloud over the team. Any momentum the team could muster would promptly be thwarted given the team’s budget constraints and the continual prospect of relocation.