Sources – Coyotes players say team will relocate to Utah

Arizona Coyotes players were informed Friday that the team is moving to Utah, sources told ESPN, confirming the PHNX Sports report.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong met with players before the game against the Edmonton Oilers and confirmed what has been rumored all week: The NHL is working to facilitate a sale to Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith. The Coyotes will begin play next season.

The NHL and Smith's team are working on a deal, but sources told ESPN Friday night that nothing has been done yet and that there is still a lot of work to do before the deal is finalized.

An announcement is expected next week after the end of the NHL regular season, sources told ESPN. Coyotes players and staff will be invited to Salt Lake City after their season finale to tour the city and facilities.

Coyotes players were unavailable following Friday night's 3-2 overtime win over Edmonton and coach Andre Tourigny said he would only take questions about the game.

“This team has been through a lot of adversity,” Tourigny said. “The first time the rumor came, we didn't deal with it well, we shot ourselves in the foot and lost 14 matches. It's nice to see how proud our guys are, how much they care about each other and how much they want each other to succeed, and they're cheering each other on and pushing each other in the same direction. “

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The team plays in the Delta Center, owned by Smith and home of the NBA's Jazz. However, sources told ESPN that the NHL made it clear to the Smiths that the Delta Center needed a hockey-specific upgrade to become the team's permanent home.

Smith already has government support. A bill was passed in the Utah State Senate to fund a revamped entertainment district downtown in anticipation of an NHL franchise. The bill has already received approval from Utah Governor Spencer Cox.

Coyotes owner Alex Merulo has been searching for years to find a permanent home for his club, which has been temporarily playing its home games at Arizona State's Mullet Arena. Meruelo is eyeing a plot in the Phoenix area and intends to win a state-run land auction for it on June 27. However, according to sources, the NHL became skeptical of the timeline and decided it needed a better solution for next season.

The NHL is interested in returning to Arizona in the future and could open the door for Merulo to own the team.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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