DETROIT — The NHL’s goal is the keep the Coyotes in Phoenix. Whether it will happen is still in doubt.
Speaking at the league’s announcement of the 2014 Winter Classic on Sunday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league’s focus is to leave the Coyotes in the desert.
“We’re not planning on moving Phoenix as we stand here today,” he said.
The Coyotes have been run by the NHL since 2009, when former owner Jerry Moyes took the team into bankruptcy in a bid to sell to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who would move the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario. The NHL vehemently opposed that plan, and a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge later refused to allow the sale to go through.
The Coyotes have had several suitors since then, but haven’t been able to complete a deal.
The latest, with former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison, fell through when his group couldn’t come through with its finances in time to meet a deadline on a 20-year, $308 million lease agreement with the City Glendale for Jobing.com Arena.
Despite reports that the league has looked at relocating the franchise, Bettman said it hasn’t looked at that option yet.
Canadian businessmen George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc submitted a purchase bid last week, and a group led by Buffalo, N.Y. businessman Darin Pastor also put in a proposal.
Jamison is still working on a deal, and former suitor Matthew Hulsizer is reportedly interested.
Big House Classic set
DETROIT — The Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium has been reset for Jan. 1 after its cancellation this season because of the NHL lockout.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement Sunday before the Red Wings hosted the St. Louis Blues.
When the game was called off, the league said it would schedule the next Winter Classic at the more than 100,000-seat stadium in Ann Arbor.
The NHL said a world-record crowd for an ice hockey game could attend the annual New Year’s Day game, surpassing the 104,173 who attended a game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State at Michigan Stadium in 2010.
Toronto and Detroit — NHL Original Six members — first faced off for a hockey game on Jan. 4, 1927, when the Toronto St. Patricks defeated the Cougars 2-1 in a game near Detroit.
Under the new realignment plan that will go into effect next season, the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will again compete in the same division.
L.A. going outside?
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings have confirmed they are interested in hosting an outdoor game next season, and the Anaheim Ducks would love to be their opponent.
Kings spokesman Mike Altieri said Sunday that the defending Stanley Cup champions are aggressively working to get plans in place for an outdoor game in Southern California, although nothing has been finalized.
Citing no sources, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Kings and Ducks are hoping to face off in a regular-season night game Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium, using the NHL’s portable rink and ice refrigeration systems.
The NHL has acknowledged it is interested in expanding its outdoor schedule beyond the annual Winter Classic.