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Optimistic New Owners Take Over Coyotes

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

The background read "Here To Stay."

That message was conveyed and reassured Tuesday when the leaders of a new ownership group of the Phoenix Coyotes were formally introduced at Arena, which the club will continue to call home after the NHL announced Monday afternoon the sale of the team to IceArizona Acquisition Co. LLC, a group headed by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc.

Photo by Norm Hall

The transaction has been approved by the League's Board of Governors, terminating NHL ownership of the club. The Coyotes had been operated by the NHL since 2009.

The Coyotes, guided by General Manager Don Maloney and Head Coach Dave Tippett, have enjoyed recent success and reached the Western Conference Final in 2012. With new owners in place, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he is confident the franchise is in a position to thrive.

"This is a day that we believed since the beginning of all these proceedings four years ago should take place because it would be the right thing for the great fans that we have here in the Valley of the Sun," Commissioner Bettman said. "It's important, and has been important to the City of Glendale, and it was important to the National Hockey League, because we always believed in this market."

IceArizona is a group of business leaders from across North America. Renaissance Sports and Entertainment LLC will act as the managing partner of IceArizona. Gosbee, a Canadian, said he grew up playing hockey and his two sons are active in the sport.

Now he's eager to help make the Coyotes an annual contender.

George Gosbee.
Photo by Norm Hall.

"I really believe in this Phoenix marketplace," Gosbee said. "We feel very comfortable that hockey is going to work in this valley. If not, we wouldn't be involved. It's exciting to be able to own a winning organization in such a vibrant market, a large metropolitan area in the United States … and a great climate."

After four years of wondering who the next owner would be, or if the Coyotes would remain in Arizona, the franchise can turn the page and look ahead to bigger and better things.

"Today is about starting over," said Leblanc, also Canadian. "Today is about turning our collective focus to the strong future of the Coyotes here in Arizona, and clearly stop talking about ownership questions. It is time to stop talking about arena leases, time to stop talking about financial options and where the team will play next year, and to focus on what is important to all of us, and that is what happens on the ice.

"This team is truly here to stay in Glendale and Arizona."

Commissioner Bettman said, "This was a complicated, difficult, and at times extraordinarily frustrating process, but I'm pleased and proud to say we've been able to conclude it, thanks to the hard work of the new ownership group led by George Gosbee and Anthony Leblanc. These two gentlemen were tireless in their efforts, they were committed to the process, they are committed to the Coyotes right here in Glendale because they believe -- as do I -- that hockey will not only work here, but can thrive here when all the pieces of the puzzle come together."

Commissioner Bettman and Leblanc confirmed the name of the franchise will change to the Arizona Coyotes, though that won't take place until the start of the 2014-15 NHL season, at the earliest.

Author: Brian Compton | Deputy Managing Editor

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