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Gary Bettman says NHL moving forward with Greg Jamison in sale process

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

It has taken about three years and more suitors than a season of the Bachelor, but the Phoenix Coyotes appear to finally be on the verge of landing a new owner. Or they're at least getting closer.

Former Sharks CEO and minority owner Greg Jamison arrived in the conversation later than some of the other potential buyers but he's the one who is finally going to get a deal done, so it would seem. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Jamison were on hand in Glendale on Monday night not only to witness the Coyotes trying to make their first conference finals in franchise history, but to update the sale process for the franchise and identify Jamison and his group as the man they want to strike a deal with.

"Basically the status of things is, we have an understanding with Greg Jamison that we are going to proceed with he and his group to reach a formal agreement for the purchase and sale of the Coyotes," Bettman said. "While Greg is working on that with us he also going to be simultaneously looking to conclude an agreement with the city of Glendale. If all things track as we hope they will in the not too distant future, although I won't put an exact time frame on it, we will be in a position, subject to board approval and the council approval obviously to have the sale of the Coyotes finalized and effectuated.

OK, so maybe they aren't much further along than we already knew. That was a bit of a let-down after reports had the NHL announcing an agreement today to sell to Jamison.

It has been a long and often torturous journey from the time that former owner Jerry Moyes put the team in bankruptcy. There have been rumors upon rumors of not only potential owners that would keep the team in the desert, but countless others of the team moving to other cities. Now this can help to put those fears to rest, or at the least calm them.

Of course, this is the part where we remind you that we've been here before with the Coyotes, seemingly closer to deals and identifying a potential buyer. They have had deals that seemed done fall apart for one reason or another. The one that comes right to mind in that regard was the deal with Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer. Eventually, because of the concessions the city of Glendale was giving to Hulsizer in the form of bonds was challenged by watchdog group the Goldwater Institute.

The details still have to be worked out, but reports out there have had Glendale agreeing to pony up $17 million per year in operating costs for the arena. It makes you wonder if the Goldwater Institute would get involved again, especially with the budget woes that Glendale is dealing with.

As of yet, though, the group hasn't weighed in on the rumored deal and won't until more details of an agreement are released. However the fact that the city presumably won't be dabbling in bonds in this proposed deal bodes well to pass the Goldwater test.

"We are looking forward to reviewing the details of the deal when they are made public," Goldwater Institute President Darcy Olsen in a statement (via USA Today. "We hope the new deal complies with the law and protects taxpayers by requiring the private parties involved to bear any related costs."

As you can see -- and as we have learned -- you can't count the chickens here yet. This is a nice development but don't have your party until the deal is done. They did not announce a deal on Monday, just that Jamison is the guy who the NHL is going to proceed with.

Clearly, though, this announcement wouldn't be made if they weren't well into the negotiating at this point. That's what Coyotes fans have to leave this news conference taking out of it. There would be no update here to the media if there wasn't progress being made. I think.

How much progress still remains the question. Both Bettman and Jamison were asked how long the process will be expected to play out until a deal can be reached.

"I would hope this could be counted in weeks rather than months," Bettman answered and Jamison parrotted later.

So really, the event was overhyped, as Bettman admitted in the news conference. It doesn't mean it wasn't without substance, but the ordeal will continue to drag on for the time being.

In the meantime, though, this is shaping up to be the best time there's ever been to be a Coyotes fan.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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