-- While it's always a great day for hockey, the players on the Phoenix Coyotes
exhibited a little extra jump Wednesday in preparation for their contest with the New Jersey Devils
at Prudential Center.
Less than 24 hours earlier, the Glendale City Council voted 5-2 to approve a $197-million deal that will keep the team in the city.
A crowd of about 300 packed the chamber and roared their approval when the decision was finally rendered after four hours of deliberation, clearing the way for the sale of the team by the NHL to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer, who would become the fourth owner of the franchise since it moved to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996.
Phoenix captain Shane Doan
, the longest-tenured player on the Coyotes with 15 seasons under his belt, was all smiles when speaking of Tuesday's decision.
"It's huge for us as a team to get it all settled and get it done, and I'll be the happiest guy when the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed," Doan told NHL.com. "I will give someone a big hug. It's one of those things that's been a long time coming, so hopefully it gets it done."
Doan admits that while the team has played well this season -- the club goes into Wednesday's game four points out of first place in the Pacific Division -- the state of the team has been on his mind.
"It's huge for us as a team to get it all settled and get it done, and I'll be the happiest guy when the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed. I will give someone a big hug. It's one of those things that's been a long time coming, so hopefully it gets it done." -- Shane Doan
"You want to see it resolved so there's no way you can say it hasn't been on your mind," he said. "Just when dealing with family … and I have four kids. It affects you, it affects your every-day life in what your plans are, what you'll be doing the next year. For this to be settled would be huge."
The NHL purchased the Coyotes in U.S. Bankruptcy Court a year ago with the intention of selling it to someone who would keep the team in Arizona. If no such buyer had been found, the franchise likely would have left the state. Hulsizer met with the executive committee of the NHL Board of Governors at a recent Board of Governors meeting and came away with the group's unanimous endorsement of his purchase of the team.
"The support Phoenix has shown for this team is nothing new to us," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett
said. "The fans in Phoenix are very passionate about the game and we saw it over the last half of the season last year. We played in a lot of buildings around the League that had nowhere near what our building was playing to every night.
"Every team has their ups and downs and the stuff that this team has been through the last couple of years … now it's time to get out of it. Our fans are passionate and Matthew Hulsizer is bound and determined to put a good product on the ice, a first-class operation. I think we're a young team building in that direction. We're no different than a lot of other teams that have gone through struggles and rebounded to become a very good organization. I hope that's what we do."
Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski
, in his fifth season with the Coyotes, was happy to hear that over 300 fans were in attendance at council chambers.
"It's great to see that support and passion for the game in the Valley," Jovanovski said. "All signs point to a positive direction. It's great to see a real commitment was made on finalizing a deal to keep the team in Glendale. The new ownership group is passionate about the game and team. The thing is, Don (Maloney, Coyotes GM) has done a nice job drafting and our players are young and they get the game and spend time in minors learning the game. The future is definitely bright for this organization."
Doan also has been delighted to see the growth of the team right before his eyes.
"Look at a guy like Keith Yandle
," Doan said. "He's somebody that's going to be huge for the team in the future and he's a guy you can build your team around. We're pretty fortunate to have guys like him and Marty Hanzal, in addition to the other guys who aren't just young, but guys with experience that we count on to lead us as well."
The Phoenix captain, who has 4 goals and 12 points in 18 games this season, knows Coyotes fans always will be true and passionate.
"We saw what happened at the end of last year when, with about five games left, we sold out every game," Doan said. "Over the last 15 games, we were averaging about 15,000, and it's a great experience. The fans that come are incredible and we sure appreciate them and understand they love hockey."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale