The Folly Of The Arizona Coyotes

Kent Anderson
SportsRaid
Published in
3 min readMay 20, 2024

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In the end, it was a farce. Playing professional hockey in an 4600-seat college arena was too much, too embarrassing for even the beleaguered owner of a franchise with too much debt and not enough support. It was also a rebuke of Commissioner Gary Bettman’s decades-long insisting Arizona was a viable hockey market.

Wikipedia

In the end, the relocation and sale of the team to Utah and Jazz owner Ryan Smith saved face for everyone involved. Alex Murelo, the Coyotes owner, gets to keep the rights to the name and has the opportunity to pursue either a relocation or expansion franchise — if he has an arena in place (or shovel's in the ground) within five years.

Which is an impossibly tight and unrealistic deadline at this point. The NHL Board of Governors (a fancy term the owners gave themselves) probably knows this and figures Murelo won’t meet the tight deadline.

Quick trivia question: Name Wayne Gretzky’s first team? Wasn’t Edmonton. It was the Indianapolis Racers. He played eight games. In the World Hockey Association. In 1977. He was then sold to the Oilers and six months later, the NHL absorbed the Oilers, Quebec, New England (Hartford) and Winnipeg. Of those four, only Edmonton remains in their original home.

In 1996, Winnipeg, playing in the smallest market in the League, moved to Phoenix, the fourth largest…

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Kent Anderson
SportsRaid

Purveyor of Truth and Facts. Lifelong Detroiter. Journalist. Loves good TV, sports, friends and family. Mostly. Also: https://rollingwheelie.substack.com/