NHL Trade Tracker: Take a look at the league’s latest moves.

Now that Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo reportedly has given up his pursuit of a new arena, the NHL could have another option in the state — expansion.

In the aftermath of a report from PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan that says Meruelo won’t pursue further arena options after a land auction for his desired site this week was cancelled, the NHL is in a different situation when it comes to the Arizona market.

Perhaps it might be a more desirable path, too.

“The haters said Alex Meruelo would never pull this off, that he was a paper tiger, and they were right,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on the 32 Thoughts podcast on Tuesday.

“It didn’t even last three months. Now basically what happens is Arizona becomes a (potential) expansion team. What they do is take their time and figure out the arena situation. I think the NHL will go back there, but they’ll (deal with the) arena situation and we’ll see.”

Meruelo sold the Coyotes to Utah’s Ryan and Ashley Smith in a $1.2-billion deal brokered by the league after the regular season.

Meruelo retained the rights to the Coyotes’ name, logo and trademark. He also got a five-year window granted to build an arena and reactivate the Arizona franchise.

The reactivation of the franchise would have required Meruelo to pay back the $1 billion that he received when he sold the team.

With Meruelo walking away, the NHL could have the ability to open the door to other potential owners.

The Coyotes had been in turmoil since the conclusion of the 2021-22 season when the City of Glendale opted not to renew its contract with the team to play at Gila River Arena. Voters then rejected, in early 2023, a proposed entertainment district that would have included an arena in Tempe.

The team had been playing at Mullett Arena, a rink with a capacity of 4,600 for NHL games on the campus of Arizona State University, for the past two seasons.

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