- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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NEW YORK -- Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday at the NHL's Board of Governors meeting that the Glendale City Council's approval of a proposed deal from the Renaissance Sports and Entertainment Group is "essential" for keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix.
The Glendale City Council is expected to vote on the deal July 2.
"If the council doesn't approve it so that this transaction can close, I don't think the Coyotes are going to be playing there," Bettman said.
Both Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that, without that approval, the league will explore relocation options.
Both Seattle and Quebec City are believed to be viable options if the league chooses to go that route.
"There are relocation options here and those are the alternatives we're going to consider," Daly said.
Daly and Bettman also confirmed that relocation would be possible before the opening of the 2013-14 season.
"There's enough time," Bettman said.
The Glendale City Council called a special meeting for Friday afternoon to discuss the proposal publicly though a vote is not expected until July 2.
According to the Arizona Republic, the Renaissance group's deal includes a "proposed-use agreement for the city-owned arena" that would pay Renaissance executives upwards of $15 million annually to operate the venue.
The vote was tabled at a recent council meeting on Tuesday amid concerns about the financial returns the venture could provide and the city's budget.
Addressing questions about potential relocation, Daly said that the league's new alignment plans will not be impacted in the immediate future, regardless of whether the Coyotes remain in Phoenix or leave.
"I think the alignment will stay the same next year, regardless of what we do," Daly said.
He was also asked about the capacity (15,177) of the KeyArena in Seattle, and whether the league was confident the facility could host a hockey team.
"We believe it can," Daly said.
Among the other issues addressed at the meeting Thursday? Olympic participation, league economics and potential rule changes and equipment provisions proposed by the NHL's competition committee.
Bettman said the league expects to have a deal for NHL participation in the 2014 Sochi Olympics within the next week. There will be a meeting on Monday to try and conclude an agreement in accordance with the NHLPA, IOC and IIHF. Rule changes such as hybrid icing and prohibiting spin-o-ramas in the shootout will be brought to the union's executive board, as well as goaltending equipment changes and the use of shallower nets.
7dScott Burnside and Craig Custance