The Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have taken a critical blow on Monday.
The Phoenix Business Journal says that Matthew Hulsizer has pulled out of the negotiations to buy the franchise.
You might remember Hulsizer appeared close to purchasing the team until a Phoenix-area watchdog group objected to the city of Glendale's role in the sale. That put a serious stall in the talks, putting the two sides further apart. Eventually Hulsizer, who has been trying to work out an agreement since last year, grew weary of the process and no longer is interested in the Coyotes. However, the Business Journal says that he could turn his attention to another NHL team as he is still interested in being an owner.
Now, there appears to be just two buyers still in the hunt, according to the report. One, Jerry Reinsdorf, has been in and out of the picture since the NHL took control of the team two years ago. The other is an unnamed group. There is no information as to how far along the negotiations with either group are.
The NHL has been adamant that it wants to keep the Coyotes where they are, turning away potential owners like Jim Balsillie who wanted to relocate the franchise. But pretty soon, even Bettman will grow tired of the process and might consider opening up to owners not interested in staying in the desert. The cities that would figure to be leading contenders would be Kansas City with its arena sans a permanent tenant and Quebec City, former home to the Nordiques/Avalanche.
-- Brian Stubits