ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote the "ownership uncertainty of the Phoenix Coyotes, which has dragged on for two years and resurfaced with a vengeance in the past month, hasn't slowed down the players on the ice in the final few weeks of the regular season." The Coyotes have gone 7-1-1 in their last nine games and are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference. Coyotes RW Shane Doan said of the ownership situation, "It's almost like you never see it ending at this point. It's been two years of this. But obviously it finally will end at some point, and we're looking forward to it." Coyotes GM Don Maloney added, "It's the last two to three weeks that the off-ice issues with the franchise have become front and center, at least to me, and even within the team. ... I don't think any of us would have thought this saga would have played out this long" (ESPN.com, 3/22).
PLAYOFF TRIP A MUST: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel writes hockey in North Texas "isn't dead, but it sure feels like it." The Stars, who are currently run by the team's creditors, are in "dire need of creating a perception they are moving in the right direction and are a commodity worth buying, either from a fan's perspective or for the new owner." Engel: "The season ticket base is under 11,000. Probably a lot more than that, too. The potential buyers of the franchise thus far have underwhelmed the bank. And the bank isn't selling until it gets the price it wants." The "only way these realities begin to change is immediately." The Stars are one point out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and Engel writes the team must "make the playoffs." Engel: "Failure to do so delays this entire process by another calendar year" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/24).
FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: In Sacramento, Dale Kasler writes if the NBA Kings "leave Sacramento for Anaheim," Ducks Owner Henry Samueli "will be a big reason why." Samueli is "trying to wrap up negotiations with the Kings' owners, the Maloof family, on a deal to move the team to the Honda Center, which Samueli manages." He is a "scientist, businessman, philanthropist -- and basketball junkie." When he bought the Ducks in '05, he said, "I would love to lure an NBA franchise." Kings co-Owner Joe Maloof said that Anaheim "has made overtures to the Kings before." But Kasler writes Samueli's "presence makes it more likely Anaheim will succeed this time" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/24).
WARRIOR WILL SURVIVE: In S.F., Rusty Simmons reported "most signs point toward Larry Riley returning as the Warriors' general manager next season, because he has a good working relationship with, and the respect of, the new ownership." Riley said the "growth of the organization under" co-Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber "will allow me to schedule things better and give me a more reasonable time frame to approach (prospect) evaluations." Riley: "I think I'll be allowed to schedule things better next year, and I'll be able to accomplish the same things with more convenient logistics" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/23).