There may finally be an answer to the Phoenix Coyotes franchise instability saga at this coming Tuesday evenings Glendale, Arizona city council meeting. Councillors will vote YES or NO on a clause concerning whether they will cover all of the NHL’s losses moving forward, in exchange for the city of Glendale receiving more time to figure out the various and well documented ownership issues regarding the franchise. Basically, if they vote YES, the city of Glendale will agree to cover the losses the NHL expects to incur in the future while they try to find a new owner for the club. This would result in the Coyotes most likely remaining Phoenix for at least one more season. If the councillors vote NO, then the team will most likely be relocated by the NHL as soon as possible.
The NHL would like to remain in Phoenix but not if it means suffering more heavy losses as a result. There is expected to be a considerable amount of pressure from some Glendale taxpayers who are steadfastly against spending portions of the city’s budget on saving a floundering sports team which has such a small fan base. The NHL most likely welcomes the timing of this vote, because the sooner the fate of the franchise is resolved, the better. The NHL would incur losses over the summer months because they won’t be able to sell very many season tickets because of the uncertainly of the franchises future in Phoenix.
If the NHL does not receive a guarantee that their losses will be covered, then you can expect them to hop on the first jet out of the desert. Possible cities for relocation include the franchise’s former home, Winnipeg Manitoba, Quebec City, Hartford, and Kansas City. Winnipeg is the most logical of these choices because they have a new arena, the MTS centre, which is under six years old and seats 15, 015. The MTS centre would by far be the smallest arena in the NHL, but would be a financially viable option because of the expected sell outs for every game. A 15,000 seat arena that sells out every game would do much better than an 17,000 seat arena which has average attendance records that hover around 10,000, which is the status quo for a few surviving NHL clubs considered to be “stable”. The 10,000 average attendance figure is being kind to some NHL clubs because many insiders believe the average attendance records to be even lower for some teams. After Winnipeg, Hamilton Ontario is probably the next most logical spot for relocation but do not expect the NHL to even consider it, after the battle they put up last summer trying to keep the Coyotes out of Hamilton.
If the club is relocated, they could be an instant winner somewhere else which makes them even more attractive if the prospect of relocation is explored. Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett is nominated for this seasons Jack Adams trophy awarded to the league’s top coach. In addition to this, Phoenix General Manager Don Maloney is nominated for the NHL’s inaugural GM of the year award, and Coyote’s goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is nominated for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the league’s top goaltender as well. Who knows, the 2010-2011 Coyotes franchise (which would most likely be renamed) could be the next Colorado Avalanche circa 1996. We will find out Tuesday evening if that is a possibility.