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OPINION: NHL to the 801

Dallas Stars left wing Mason Marchment (27) skates with the puck ahead of Arizona Coyotes right wing Dylan Guenther (11) during the second period of an NHL game, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, in Dallas.

In a monumental shift for the NHL, the Arizona Coyotes bid farewell to the Valley of the Sun, setting their sights on the snow-capped peaks of Salt Lake City. The decision, finalized amidst a whirlwind of negotiations, saw Alex Meruelo relinquish ownership to Ryan Smith, the current owner of the Utah Jazz.

Arizona’s General Manager Bill Armstrong, delivered the news to the Coyotes players prior to their clash with the Edmonton Oilers on April 12, marking the end of an era. The Delta Center, home to the Jazz, will serve as a temporary stadium for the team, offering solace until a new downtown arena emerges from the Salt Lake skyline.

Before finalizing the decision to make the move to Salt Lake, Meruelo had pushed for a new stadium to be built in the Scottsdale area. Meruelo’s aspirations of erecting a $3 billion arena complex in North Phoenix evaporated, dashed by the weight of prohibitive costs. Despite plans for an auction to secure prime real estate, fate intervened, sealing the Coyotes’ destiny in Utah.

The journey from Glendale to Tempe, marked by financial woes and makeshift facilities, embodied the team’s tumultuous saga. Even in Tempe, where hopes of a new dawn flickered, the challenge of relocation loomed large, casting a shadow over the Coyotes’ ambitions.

Meruelo’s enduring commitment to Arizona’s hockey legacy persists, with plans to retain the team’s name and intellectual property.

As the Coyotes begin a new chapter in the land of the Great Salt Lake, uncertainty gives way to possibility. Smith’s pledge to transform the Delta Center into a hockey arena signals a new era for the Utah community. The Arizona Coyotes brace for a fresh start in Utah as they take on this new venture.

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Collyn Cowles
Collyn Cowles, Sports editor

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