Gary Bettman won't name timeline

Updated: April 11, 2012, 9:16 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league continues to work on getting a deal done to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona long term.

"We're not setting a timeline," Bettman said Wednesday night. "We're dealing with it, and we're continuing to pursue a solution and reach a point where we conclude we can't reach a solution, we'll deal with it. But we do hope we can reach a solution so that the timing will become irrelevant."

The commissioner said in January three groups showed serious interest in the Coyotes. Before Game 1 of Detroit and the Predators, Bettman said he knows the Glendale city council met Tuesday night. He said the NHL continues talking to prospective buyers in various stages of "seeing if they can get it done and at the same time reach an agreement with the city.

The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday at least one deal from a prospective owner should be public by the end of April. A group headed by former San Jose Sharks chief executive officer Greg Jamison and a second have been talking to Glendale officials about an arena lease.

Bettman wouldn't bite when asked about the Jamison group trying to reach an arena deal.

"I don't think it serves a constructive purpose to discuss the specifics of who may be doing what," Bettman said. "There is activity ongoing on a variety of fronts, and I think we need to let it play out without outside influence."

The commissioner also wouldn't answer when asked if he's more optimistic of a deal for Phoenix than a year ago, calling the comparison apples and oranges with the circumstances not necessarily the same.

"We're continuing to work on it," Bettman said. "I know that's been a constant theme and perhaps annoyingly unsatisfying answer, but it is what it is. We're going to continue to pursue this as long as we can."

Phoenix won a division title this season for the first time in the franchise's NHL history. The Coyotes, who haven't won a playoff series since moving to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996, will start their series with Chicago on Thursday night.

Bettman said the success of franchises such as Nashville should help erase the term of teams being in non-traditional hockey markets. He pointed to the Predators selling out a franchise-record 25 games during the regular season, which included the final eight games of the regular season.

Nashville also is in the final year of construction on a new convention center across the street from the Predators' arena, and Bettman said Nashville will host an All-Star Game. The commissioner said he couldn't give a date, and the event will need the "stars to line up."

Information from ESPN The Magazine's Craig Custance and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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