Before the Phoenix Coyotes played Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal playoff series against the Nashville Predators, they may have already won a historic victory.
Win or lose Monday -- a win sends the Coyotes to the conference finals for the first time in Phoenix team history -- it's looking more and more like the team will be around for the long term. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, sounding a bit terse in addressing the media, announced that the league will proceed with former San Jose Sharks minority owner and CEO Greg Jamison's bid to purchase the team.
The two men were at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale Monday for the game.
"Greg and his group will be working on a (lease) agreement that the city of Glendale can vote on," Bettman said when asked what happens next.
After that, the sale of the team must be approved by the NHL Board of Governors.
We who feed off of sports in this area are thrilled that the franchise is on its way out of ownership limbo, having been operated by the league in recent years. But we also know that the dreaded Goldwater Institute is lying in the weeds waiting to deconstruct the deal to sell the team to Jamison to see how it affects local taxpayers.
So while hockey fans here might think this is just a matter of time, they also know not to get too excited about new ownership.
Bettman said Jamison and his group give the franchise "stability it needs and deserves." Jamison said he looks forward to selling tickets, suites and sponsorships for the Phoenix Coyotes -- he intends to keep the team around.
"It's exciting," he said. "This is a product that we believe in."