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Barroway Press Conference Transcript

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

EDITOR'S NOTE: What follows is a transcript of the press conference held on Jan. 2, 2015 at which the Coyotes introduced Andrew Barroway as the team's Majority Owner, Chairman and Governor.

Coyotes Co-Owner, President & CEO Anthony LeBlanc: “Thank you everyone for coming today, and in particular, I would like to thank a couple of members who are here today. Obviously, Rich (Nairn) introduced our GM and our coach. Don (Maloney), Dave (Tippett), thank you for being here today. As usual, thanks to our captain, Shane Doan, who is here as well, and more importantly is the new member of the ownership group, Mr. Andrew Barroway. We were in this room together about a year-and-a-half ago as a group when the original IceArizona was being introduced and the common theme that we have, that we continue today is the future of the Arizona Coyotes, the strong future that we have here in the desert. And today is a very important part of that; I would say probably the most important announcement that we’ve had since we’ve taken over ownership of the franchise. So, obviously, we all know why we are here, but it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the new majority owner of the Arizona Coyotes, as well as the governor and chairman, Mr. Andrew Barroway. I would certainly like to call upon one of the owners of IceArizona, Mr. Craig Stewart, on the podium along with Coach Tippett and GM Maloney and we would like to do a formal presentation of the ceremonial sweater.”

Governor and Chairman Andrew Barroway: “This is truly a dream come true for me and my family. I want to thank you and George Gosbee for your hard work in getting this transaction done. It’s great to be working with you guys, along with Don Maloney and Dave Tippett, two great, great hockey men. I would also like to thank Commissioner Bettman, Bill Daley and Dave Zimmerman, and of course the NHL Board of Governors. Thank you as well to Jeffrey Pollack and Corey Jacobs for their hard work on this transaction. Special shout out to my son Jake who is standing right next to Shane (Doan) for his love and unwavering support. Thank you Jake, I couldn’t have done it without you. Lastly, I want to thank the loyal Coyotes fans for their support of the team. I am so excited to be here and be a Coyote; I can’t even begin to tell you… It feels great to be here. It was a long haul and I’m thrilled and as happy as could be. I’m a competitive person and I want to come here and help build an even stronger organization to help our team win. My partners and I are committed to achieving excellence on and off the ice. We are here to win the Cup, it starts with me. We will not rest until we bring a Cup home to Arizona. Thank you. Go ‘Yotes!”

Craig Morgan – Fox Sports Arizona: “If you could, just walk us back through how your interest in the Coyotes began and why it began. Why were you interested in purchasing a majority stake in this team?”

Barroway: “I’ve always been a huge sports fan and a hockey fan and was introduced to Anthony (LeBlanc) through bankers. We got along great; I thought it was a great opportunity. I think hockey is and can continue to be successful here in the Valley and Anthony and George (Gosbee) were just a great bunch of guys. It was a nice, natural fit. We really like each other.”

Morgan: “George described you as kind of a sports junkie, someone who has wanted to get into this game. Is that accurate?”

Barroway: “That is accurate.”

Sarah McLellan – AZCentral Sports: “Can you just talk about the transition phase into assimilating into this organization and what you kind of expect after you’ve been watching from afar for a few months. Now that you’re on the ground floor, what do you expect after these next few months?”

Barroway: “Right now this is all very exciting and I’m getting to know the guys. We’ve all met, we’ve had many, many discussions and it’s really important for me to do a good job and to make Arizona proud. So, right now I’m listening, learning and we want to build for the future here. We think there’s tremendous opportunity, tremendous upside to this organization. Everything Anthony (LeBlanc), George (Gosbee) and the other partners have done, including Craig (Stewart) is trending in the right direction and I’m just here to help move it forward and to give it a boost if I can.”

McLellan: “How much do you anticipate being involved in the day-to-day operations? How hands-on do you see yourself being?”

Barroway: “Anthony (LeBlanc) is going to continue as our president and CEO. I’m going to be involved in all major decisions and I will be very involved in this organization.”

Jerry Brown – “It’s been kind of a waiting game as far as the many changes that can happen on the ice. Anthony, how quickly do you see things happening and how does this influx of cash add stability to the franchise maybe in the next six months or the next 12 months?”

LeBlanc: “I’ll actually defer that question to Don (Maloney) and to Dave (Tippett), but I can say that what we’re providing is financial flexibility, but what Andy I’m sure feels, and as we’ve always felt, is that we look to the experts who are responsible for our operations to tell us what they need to put a better team together, and with that our defer to Don with that…”

General Manager Don Maloney: “We’re sitting here at the first of 2015 and would we like to be in a better position in the standings and the playoffs? Of course we do. One thing in getting to know Andy and even the ownership group that has been in here is that they want to win. They want to build long-term. I think when you look at any successful organization, it starts at the top. Stability, leadership, direction; and now that this is concluded it’s becoming clear. Obviously, in the weeks and months ahead we’ll have a lot of time to kind of look at ourselves and figure out, ‘Okay, what do the best people in this business, how do they do their business? And what does it take to be successful?’ And the good thing for us, certainly on the hockey side, is that we’re solid, we’re stable, we’re here and now we have to figure out how we can win long-term.”

Morgan: “I think a lot of fans are wondering if Andrew’s arrival will mean an immediate impact, a quick fix. Can you address that?”

Maloney: “Again, speaking for myself, there’s no quick fixes here right now. This hockey team, we’ve dug ourselves in this position that we’re in. It has nothing to do with salary or cap or anything, it’s about player performance, our assessments of the players going forward. So, I think what I’m encouraged about my discussions with Andy is the long-term view we have of the team, the game, where the game is going and what we have to do to have success. So, any knee-jerk, quick fix that might give us another five points in the standings, that’s not going to happen. We’re going to think things through and analyze what we have in this organization and there is credit to Anthony and George and certainly Craig and the past ownership group. We’ve invested in the infrastructure of this organization in our scouting, in our development over the last year and a half. Unfortunately, it’s not a quick result, that’s three or four or five years that it’ll show that the investment that’s been made since the IceArizona group came in will pay off. I’m really excited; it’s a great day for us because not only do we feel like we’re trending in the right direction, it may not show it every night on the ice right now, but we know long-term if we stay with this and make good decisions and have the resources available to us to have success then we’ll be a team to be reckoned with going forward. It just won’t happen overnight.”

McLellan: “Where do you project the payroll next season and how much flexibility could we see? Whether it comes to fruition this season or into the summer or into next season?”

LeBlanc: “I will say from our standpoint that the answer is we do have flexibility, which is a good thing. But, again, it sounds a bit of a broken record, but we’re not going to rush out and have any knee-jerk reactions because that’s not how you build a successful franchise. And, again Don, and perhaps coach want to reiterate that.”

Maloney: “Well, I think you look around the league and it’s a hard league to change and get better on the fly immediately. So, even if there was an influence of X amount of dollars we’re looking at everything long-term. And that’s what we’re trying to do here, say, ‘Okay, we’re at this stage of our development.’ We have some really exciting things coming. I was just up in Canada watching Max Domi with the Canadian team and he was exceptional. He was as dynamic as any player, somebody that you can get excited about. So, there’s some good things coming for us and now just to have that stability… I’ll go back to that work stability and even resource, the creativity that the whole group can pull together, that we’ll have more success going forward.”

McLellan: “Don, you’ll get your clarity going forward. I know that that’s something you’ve been waiting for. Will there be talks with players that are up for new contracts? Is that something that will be happening over the next few months when you get your clarity on the budget for next season?”

Maloney: “It’s not as though we’ve been waiting for Andy to close this deal. I’ve been regularly communicating. Actually, (owners) Craig Stewart and Gary Drummond, I’ve been directly reporting to them on a weekly, if not a lot more often, basis. We have regular communication about the team and the future. And obviously now, Andy will be part of those discussions. So, there’s nothing really dramatically going to change here. The good thing is that we now have the stability we need to have long-term success. It’s up to us to make good decisions and improve. “

Morgan: “A couple questions that have been nagging out there in the international media… First one is the out clause. It’s my understanding the out clause will stay in place. Can you explain whether that’s the case and why?”

Barroway: “It was part of the prior deal and nothing has changed. I just assumed the position at 51% owner, so it wasn’t anything active. It was just a continuation of the same.”

LeBlanc: “What you’re referring to is the agreement with the City of Glendale, the long-term lease agreement. That is something that is only 18 months old and will continue to be in place. We’re very happy with our partnership with the City of Glendale, but you mentioned the so-called ‘out clause,’ which seemed to have gone away for a while and then it reared its ugly head over the last few months and I really wish it would stop, but I’ll add to that, you mentioned that there’s been a lot of rumors and speculation, I liked how you phrased it, in the international media over the last several months. One of the things that they speculated on was that we were not going to conclude this transaction- I guess that was incorrect. So, perhaps, they can stop with the speculation on other things. But I guess I can pray for many things that won’t happen.”

Morgan: “Let me follow that up with the other big rumor that was hanging out there, that you were buying this team to flip it so someone else can relocate it to Las Vegas.”

Barroway: “Completely untrue. I’m buying this team because I ‘m a lifelong sports and hockey fan. It had always been my dream to become and owner and I want to bring a winner to the Valley. So, that couldn’t be any more false. I’m thrilled to be here, thrilled to be an owner and I wouldn’t have gone through this really difficult process of buying a team just to go flip it. I don’t think people buy teams to go make money, that’s not the goal here. You try not to lose too much money… But I certainly did not buy it for a quick flip; I can’t state that anymore emphatically.”

Morgan: “Your thoughts on this franchise long-term in the Valley. Is that what you’re committed to?”

Barroway: “Yes. I’m committed to be here. It’s a beautiful place, we’ve got some passionate fans and I think we can build a winning, long-term organization here and really, really thrive.”

Jerry Brown: “Fifty-one percent of the team buys you the ability to be an active owner… How active of an owner do you plan to be? And as an East Coast guy, how are you going to set up your base of operations as far as living there, living here, having a place here? Have you thought about that much?”

Barroway: “Well, I’m just getting settled in now. I can tell you, I love it here. It’s a beautiful place to be and I’m going to be an active owner. I will be here.”

Mark Brown – Hockey Writers: “You’ve had very good economic success with this franchise over the last few months. Why did you decide to relinquish a 51% majority stake?”

LeBlanc: “First off, I can absolutely confirm what you said about the success that we’re having on the business side. It has been a tremendous 18 months. A number of long-term contracts have been finalized, including with our friends at Fox Sports Arizona, new naming rights on our building with Gila River. When we were introduced with Mr. Barroway back several months ago we were not in a process of looking to sell. As a matter of fact, it was one of those, ‘Sure, we’ll happily meet him but it seems almost like a waste of time…’ People have said, ‘Well, you’re relinquishing 51% control,’ that’s a bit of an inaccuracy because remember, it was a nine member group; none of us had control so to speak. A majority decision would drive the day. So, there’s parts of us that are quite happy to have someone, who, what is the old expression? Heavy is the head that wears the crown? Heavy is the head of Mr. Barroway because he is wearing the crown.”

Mark Brown: “There is speculation that because you and George (Gosbee) are Canadians operating an American company you had difficulty with the tax consequences and that is how this deal came about. That’s it’s a deal to add tax relief as an American now has a majority stake in the company. Can you comment on that?”

LeBlanc: “First off, I would never say anything disparaging about your lovely tax organizations in the United States… But yes, it’s well known that the majority group was over 50% controlled by Canadians, and I wouldn’t say that we would have any tax consequences at that time, but there are some interesting financial vehicles available to us through the National Hockey League that would’ve been very difficult for us to take part in, in the circumstances of our ownership group. So, it was one of a multitude of factors that made sense for us and the ownership group to take a good, long look at what Andy was putting on the table and it certainly helped us make our decision.”

Mark Brown: “The timing of the transaction was announced on December 31, 2014, does that give you an advantage in taxes for 2014?”

LeBlanc: “Yes... And thank you to the National Hockey League and all of the lawyers that were working on this. It was a long process that we were able to get done under the wire, but of course, I think we all know December 31 is the end of the calendar year and for most of us, the end of the tax year. So yeah, there are advantages to getting it done by then.”

Jamie Eisner – Arizona Sports: “You mentioned that you were a lifelong sports fan, but you mentioned you were a businessman. What made this franchise an attractive asset for you?”

Barroway: “I think the strong partnership with the City of Glendale was part of it, and everything that George, Anthony and the other owners had been doing over the past 18 months. Everything was trending in the right direction. Corporate sponsorships were up, season ticket sales were up, everything was trending positively and I saw it as a good investment and a good opportunity for me to get in an organization heading in the right direction and get in and work with people that I like. So, it seemed like a very good fit.”

McLellan: “Now with a 10-member ownership group could you explain how decisions will be made since there now is 10 cooks in the kitchen but one is now obviously the majority owner.”

LeBlanc: “I think it’s fair to say if someone owns greater than 50% they are in control of the franchise. One of the things we were encouraged about when we initially started in our discussions with Andrew and throughout the process is that he wants to be collaborative, but we all understand going into this that 51% buys you control of the franchise.”

Barroway: “It’s not going to be like ‘Top Chef,’ I’m not going to be running around screaming, but ultimately the buck stops with me as they say.”

Morgan: “When your name first surfaced, I think one of the things that amazed people the most was that the valuation of this franchise had risen so much. There were a lot of theories floating out there as to why that is the case… Can you speak to what it is about pro sports franchises, NHL franchises that is making them so attractive?”

Barroway: “The NHL itself is heading upward. Commissioner Bettman has done an excellent job, the league is growing and sports are live TV. It’s not something you want to DVR. You want to see it live. So, this is something that I think is here to say. I put a lot of my own economic resources into this; I believe in this team, I believe in the NHL.

McLellan: “George had said, and I just want to make sure that this is accurate, that part of the initial investment will go back into the team and that the rest of IceArizona is going to match that amount. Is that still accurate?”

LeBlanc: “Will slightly match it… 49%.”

McLellan: “When you say go back into the team, what does that mean? Does that mean go to player payroll? Go to renovations in the building? What does that mean?”

LeBlanc: “It’s running the organization. There’s no question that the bulk of our expenses in the organization, the expense line, is player payroll. So, there’s no question that that’s part of it… We’ve put a lot of money into the arena over the offseason; we have plans to do so. It’s a wonderful facility but it’s 10 years old, not a lot has happened to it… Running a hockey team, of course, everything is in regards to the players and the team and the performance, but it’s also about the game experience for your fans and ensuring that your corporate sponsors that it’s the right investment to put their money into. So, we will continue to do that, but I think it’s fair to say that the majority of the investment will continue to flow back towards Don’s P and L, as they say.”

Jerry Brown: “I know you’re wanting to get your feet wet, but I know you’ve been watching this franchise for a couple months as this sale has been going on, but three years ago they were a whisper away of playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. What do you see, looking at this team you’re taking over here, what needs to happen?”

Barroway: “I think the team has had a tough start to the year. I think there is a good nucleus of young players. I think we’re going to continue to build this thing long-term. We have some good prospects coming up and we want to build it and built it the right way and we want to be smart about it. So, I’m going to defer to the hockey experts on that. But I’m bullish and very positive on the Coyotes future.”

McLellan: “So, are you going to relocate here Andrew? What are you going to do as far as purchasing a home here and making this somewhat of a home base?”

Barroway: “I am looking forward to that. I have business on the East Coast, but I will be here. I’ll be here a lot and I look forward to being an active owner.”

McLellan: “Just tracing back, I know you’ve tried to purchase a couple of teams. When did the interest start for you in terms of wanting to get involved in the NHL? Where does that passion for the sport come from?”

Barroway: “This is a childhood dream. I’ve wanted it since I was six-years-old. It just took a long time to realize. But this is not a new thing for me; it’s something that I’ve wanted since I could remember.”

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