There may be some Coyote sightings at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort this summer.
Bill Dutton, a Qualicum Beach resident and chairman of the resort (PGGR), is part of the group that now owns and will operate the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes after a close vote at a Glendale, Ariz. city council meeting Tuesday night.
Dutton is one of the Canadian businessmen who comprise Renaissance Sports and Entertainment (RSE), which bought the team from the league recently but still needed to work out a deal with Glendale regarding the management and operation of the arena that houses the Coyotes.
The NEWS reached Dutton by phone at the golf course Wednesday.
“I’ve got Coyotes stickers on my golf cart already,” Dutton, 80, said with a chuckle.
A former president, general manager and scout of the Estevan (Sask.) Bruins, Dutton said he won’t have a role with the day-to-day operations of the NHL team.
“I will have a vote like anyone else (who is an RSE owner), but I won’t have anything to do with the management or anything like that,” said Dutton. “I will just mainly be a cheerleader.”
Dutton has the pedigree for NHL ownership. His uncle was Red Dutton, who played, coached, managed and owned the New York Americans in the early 1940s. He also has numerous ties to the Coyotes, including the fact he played hockey with current coach Dave Tippett’s uncle.
Born in Virden, Man., Bill Dutton was a Winnipeg Jets fan until they relocated to Phoenix about 15 years ago. Dutton once managed the rink in Virden, and his extensive hockey background includes taking care of numerous duties with the Estevan team.
“I drove the bus, sharpened skates, whatever had to be done,” he said.
Dutton has a place in Scottsdale, Ariz. and was a regular at Coyotes games last season. He said the jobing.com arena where the team plays is “beautiful” and he has hope for success at the turnstiles now that the ownership situation has settled.
“Fan numbers have increased pretty much every year,” he said. “There are a lot of Canadians who spend the winters down there. And they have a competitive team — they were a few goals here and there from making the playoffs.”
Any chance some players, perhaps captain Shane Doan or freshly-drafted Max Domi, will be seen this summer playing golf at Pheasant Glen?
“You never know,” said Dutton. “If they do I will be the one who imported Coyotes to Vancouver Island.”
According to a story on NHL.com, The NHL, which has been operating the franchise for four years, still requires approval from its board of governors to complete the sale. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who was in attendance at the City Council meeting along with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, told NHL.com the closing of the sale should be done in the next couple of weeks.
“We finally have an opportunity to look forward,” Bettman said. “There’s been enough looking back. It’s taken a lot of hard work by a lot of people to get to this point, and we’re grateful to the council for all of their efforts on behalf of our fans here in the Valley, on behalf of all the businesses and people whose employment depends on the Coyotes, and on behalf of everything that’s gone into this — all the hard work, all the effort — it’s nice to have an opportunity to focus on the future.”
The City of Glendale agreed to pay RSE $15 million annually across the next 15 years, a fee that is $9 million more than the city has budgeted for arena-management fees. But RSE agreed to return a projected $6.7 million in additional revenue streams, including parking revenues, ticket surcharges and additional arena-naming rights.
“To all the residents and taxpayers of Glendale, we are looking forward to a solid partnership and filling the building,” Anthony LeBlanc of RSE told NHL.com. “We are here for the long term and focused on keeping the Coyotes in the Valley and making this a long-term success. We have been cautiously optimistic that this would happen, but we’re very grateful to council for making what we feel is the right decision, but not any easy one.”
If the vote had not passed, NHL officials told NHL.com the Coyotes likely would leave Arizona.
The ownership group is comprised of Canadian businessmen Dutton, LeBlanc, George Gosbee, Daryl Jones, Dave Duckett, George Fink, Robert Gwin, Avik Dey and others.