The future of the Arizona Coyotes


Matt Porter of the Boston Globe:

The Coyotes were booted from the Pacific Division to the Central and have no physical address after this season.

Are they doomed to wander the desert? Or flee entirely?

The City of Glendale, Ariz., dissatisfied with its return on investment and some debts owed, on Thursday backed out of its year-to-year, joint agreement with the Coyotes at city-owned Gila River Arena. Team president Xavier Gutierrez said he would be open to renegotiating with the city, but Glendale doesn’t seem too interested, perhaps unless the price plummets.

It’s the latest chapter in a saga that began shortly after the buzz wore off from the former Winnipeg Jets’ arrival. Since 2000, the Coyotes have been among the bottom four teams in attendance every year but three: The high-water mark was 2004, when they moved from the NBA arena in downtown Phoenix to the new rink in Glendale and finished 19th. In the two seasons after that they were 22nd (in 2006) and 24th (in 2007).

Since then, woof.

Ticket sales, game-day concessions, and merchandise account for about 50 percent of annual NHL revenue, commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this year. Safe to say the Coyotes aren’t contributing much of that to the league’s coffers. Coupled with the years of subpar on-ice product, turnover in ownership and management, and stripping down of the current roster, and it’s fair to question the franchise’s viability. To that point: The Athletic reported the Coyotes received “multiple notices” from the city about unpaid bills.

Youth hockey in the area, which can always present Auston Matthews as its shining motivational example to kids with nascent NHL dreams, would suffer immensely without a team.

The 69-year-old Bettman, who has previously stated that the Glendale arrangement was untenable for the Coyotes, brought hockey to several Sun Belt locales in his tenure (29 years as commissioner as of Feb. 1). He likely wouldn’t want to relocate a team as one of the last major acts of his career.