By Michael Loccisano,Associated PressThe NHL announced Friday that it has closed its partnership with The Pitchers, the Phoenix Coyotes organization, in order to allow owners of other Arizona-based restaurants to open their own.
The NHL had previously been a supporter of the Pitchers franchise, which had operated out of a Phoenix restaurant in the years prior to being sold to the Coyotes.
The franchise, owned by former NHL player Joe Sakic, was the first NHL franchise to be acquired by a Chinese owner and operated under the same ownership.
The partnership between the NHL and The Pitcher was announced in a statement from NHL Executive Vice President and General Manager Jim Rutherford.
“The NHL has always had a great relationship with The Players’ Association, and we are proud of the great work they have done for us, the players and our communities,” Rutherford said.
“In the aftermath of this tragic loss, we want to provide an opportunity for the owners of The Pitters to join us in giving back to the Phoenix community, and our fans and supporters, as well as all of our communities around the world.”
The announcement came a day after the Coyotes announced that it was partnering with the Pitcher, and the announcement was met with a mixed response from fans and community leaders in the Phoenix area.
Fans have long been critical of the franchise, with some calling it a “toxic” organization, while others said it’s the perfect home for the Coyotes’ franchise.
The Pitchers is still operating out of its current location, with the Coyotes and owners of the Arizona Coyotes team, the Glendale Coyotes, still working out details for the deal.
The deal has already been approved by the Coyotes, who are in talks with the owners for a new venue for the franchise.