Smiles All Around for New Phoenix Coyotes Owners

Jaime Eisner

IceArizona was formally introduced to the media at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday.

After months, nay, years of waiting, the Phoenix Coyotes finally, officially have an owner.

The 4+ year arduous process led up to August 6, 2013, when in the depths of Jobing.com Arena, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement a half-decade in the making; the Coyotes were ownerless no more.

Unlike previous ownership announcements, the tone of Tuesday's was markedly different. Bettman joked about almost being introduced as "Coyotes owner" and a pair of custom Coyotes jerseys with the name "IceArizona" with the number 13 were held up by a smiling trio comprised of Bettman, Coyotes Governor George Gosbee and Alternate Governor Anthony LeBlanc.

LeBlanc joked about being a New York Jets fan used to being disappointed by a team, albeit for different reasons. LeBlanc added that buying the team was the only way he could get involved with hockey since he is a, "terrible hockey player."

All three men praised Coyotes fans, staff and players for sticking with the team through the rough times. Captain Shane Doan and defenseman Derek Morris were in attendance to hear from the new team owner.

"Today is about starting over," Leblanc said, "This team is truly here to stay."

That sentiment was echoed by Bettman who repeatedly said hockey can not only work in Arizona, but "thrive."

Gosbee called the acquisition a, "dream come true for any Canadian boy." He also acknowledged that his primary focus is on the business side of operating an NHL team and he plans on letting General Manager Don Maloney and Head Coach Dave Tippett "do their thing."

LeBlanc echoed the sentiments from Monday's radio appearances regarding increased the team's payroll. He also confirmed that the name change to the "Arizona Coyotes" will not come before the 2014-2015 season.

The sense of positivity in the room was evident. Partner Avik Dey said the feeling of owning an NHL franchise is "surreal" adding that he is looking forward to the puck drop on opening night (October 3).

While several people in the ownership group have their own Twitter account (Daryl Jones' being the most famous), the plan is to "centralize communication" to be clear that the information is coming from the team, Gosbee or LeBlanc. "I'll probably be tweeting less, (because of the centralized communication) as much as I enjoy the interaction."

The new owners will begin the process of repairing the damage caused by the nearly half-decade of an ownership void. Training camp opens in five weeks, meaning IceArizona will need to begin an expedited marketing campaign immediately. That process has begun as Gosbee and LeBlanc donned Coyotes pins with a large banner saying "Here To Stay" in the background.

All persons emotionally, physically and financially involved with the Coyotes can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief. No more AMULA's, city council meetings and referendums, just hockey. Who knows, it wouldn't be the first time a hockey team was saved from relocation only to win the Stanley Cup a few years later.

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