The Arizona Coyotes have fought off relocation for many years. Unfortunately, it seems the fight is now at an end. Reports emerged over the last few days that progress has been made on the franchise's potential move to Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, it seems those rumors are about to become a reality.

Coyotes players were reportedly informed that the franchise is on the move, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. The players will travel to Salt Lake City once the move is official to check out the city and facilities, Friedman noted. This report was corroborated by Arizona beat reporter Craig Morgan.

Morgan also noted that a formal relocation announcement could come on April 17th. The Coyotes are set to play their final home game of the 2023-24 NHL season that night against the Edmonton Oilers. Arizona's move marks the first relocation in the league since 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg.

Potential Coyotes owner Ryan Smith

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith looks on before the game between the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls at Delta Center.
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

If the Coyotes truly are on the move, they are likely to be sold to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith. Smith has long stated his intention to bring a team to Salt Lake City. In fact, he went as far as to submit a bid for an expansion NHL franchise. In a recent interview with The Athletic, he mentioned being mindful of not stepping over any lines.

“I don’t want to get involved with how they deliver a team. We’re showing that we’re ready and that’s what we’re putting forward,” Smith told The Athletic. “We talk to them frequently. They know our interest. They see what’s going on, they see the value, and they’re intrigued.”

Overall, Smith is excited to bring the NHL to Utah because he recognizes local interest in the sport. “Hockey has always been huge here,” added Smith. “It just hasn’t been elevated to the NHL level.”

Salt Lake City had a minor hockey team that began play in 1969. The Salt Lake Golden Eagles played in three different minor leagues until 1994 when they relocated to Detroit, Michigan. During their existence, the Golden Eagles won five minor league championships spanning two of their three leagues.

A relocated Coyotes team would likely share the Delta Center with the Jazz in the interim. However, plans are already in place for a new NBA/NHL hybrid arena in downtown Salt Lake City. In fact, local lawmakers already approved a bill for the new arena just one month ago.

The toll on Coyotes players

The Coyotes' relocation is going to be exciting for hockey fans in Salt Lake City. That said, it's a devastating time for fans in the desert who have rallied behind this team for decades. And this move is also having an effect on the players who have to go to the rink every day without any clarity on the franchise's future.

Veteran defenseman Matt Dumba recently spoke about this with The Athletic. Dumba, who signed a one-year contract with the Coyotes in NHL Free Agency, was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the NHL Trade Deadline. But he saw firsthand how all of the reports and speculation can weigh on the locker room.

“It's being felt every day you step into the Mullett (Arena). It’s not easy for those guys. I feel for them. The uncertainty of what’s going to happen ahead — I mean, it can just linger, you know? When stuff doesn’t go good, it’s a little more prevalent. It’s a bit of mental warfare for those guys,” Dumba told The Athletic.

How the players will respond to the Coyotes relocation remains unclear. However, they still have one more home game on the schedule. It's certainly going to be an emotional night on April 17th against the Edmonton Oilers. Hockey fans should definitely tune in to see Arizona one last time for a game that will mean so much to so many people.