The Arizona Coyotes have been a team plagued with troubles. The National Hockey League has spent nearly a billion dollars over the last decade to keep the team in its current location. The team has been consistently at the bottom of the league in fan attendance (made worse with their sub-6,000 current arena) and the standings (28-40-14, 7th in the Central Division last year).
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. (Image: AP)
The Coyotes' troubles go back decades. They filed for bankruptcy back in 2009 after posting losses in the region of several hundred million. (Back when they moved from Canada when they were the Winnipeg Jets.) In 2010, a chance to get a fresh start with a new owner was buried when parties began threatening litigation. In 2013, the Phoenix Coyotes became the Arizona Coyotes when they signed a 15-year lease with their new owners Renaissance Sports & Entertainment (that lease was voided two years later).
The Coyotes' problems have only intensified. Recently, the votes in Tempe, Arizona rejected a referendum on a 2.3 billion dollar entertainment district that would have allowed the organization to build a new arena.
So, where to send the Coyotes? There has been speculation that has placed the future of the organization in no less than six locations in the US and Canada. While the league would rather keep the team in the Western Conference, no serious contenders would be ready for a "new" team on that side of the map.
Recently, the state of Connecticut is adding itself to the mix. Connecticut governor Ned Lamont announced that he is planning a meeting with everyone's favorite commissioner Gary Bettman to see if the NHL would be willing to see a team back in the state.
“This is a great hockey state and a great hockey town,” said the Governor. “It's evidenced by the passion we have for the Whalers going back years, still one of the best-selling jerseys. I think we can guarantee them a very strong market right here, and a government that's ready to come and be their partner.”
Connecticut has not been home to an NHL franchise since the Hartford Whalers left for North Carolina in 1997 to become the Hurricanes. It would give New England a second team in the league. Hartford would be more than happy to have another NHL franchise in their city.
If Hartford can get the Coyotes there, it will very likely be the reincarnation of the Hartford Whalers. New Englanders would certainly love another team that they could get to easily. That being said, the Connecticut Coyotes have a nice ring to it. Too bad it wouldn't stick.