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NHL approves Coyotes' move to Utah

Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The NHL board of governors voted in favor of the sale and relocation of the Arizona Coyotes to Utah for the 2024-25 season.

The league is giving control of the franchise to Ryan and Ashley Smith while awarding former Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo the right to reactivate the team should he secure a fully constructed NHL-appropriate arena within five years.

The Smiths run the NBA's Utah Jazz, and the two organizations will share the Delta Center beginning next season, according to ESPN's Emily Kaplan. The arena has a hockey capacity of 12,000. The franchise collected 11,000 season-ticket deposits within hours of the sale announcement, notes The Athletic's Chris Johnston.

"As everyone knows, Utah is a vibrant and thriving state, and we are thrilled to be a part of it," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"The NHL's belief in Arizona has never wavered. We thank Alex Meruelo for his commitment to the franchise and Arizona, and we fully support his ongoing efforts to secure a new home in the desert for the Coyotes. We also want to acknowledge the loyal hockey fans of Arizona, who have supported their team with dedication for nearly three decades while growing the game."

Smith said his Utah team won't rush picking a name and could go into its inaugural season without one, per The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

Relocation talks for the Coyotes picked up steam earlier this month after years of rumors. The league's flip of the franchise to Smith was first reported last week. Smith has pushed hard to land a franchise and made a formal request to the NHL for an expansion club in January.

Coyotes players and staff were informed of the move last week. All of Arizona's hockey assets, including its full reserve list, roster, draft picks, and hockey operations will be transferred to the Utah franchise.

The Coyotes were unsuccessful in landing a new arena deal after moving to Arizona State's Mullett Arena ahead of the 2022-23 season. Scottsdale mayor David Ortega publicly opposed the Coyotes' latest plans to purchase a plot of land in North Phoenix for a new arena and entertainment district, calling the idea "not feasible."

Arizona players bid an emotional farewell to their home crowd Wednesday night after their season finale, a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

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