The Arizona Coyotes haven’t played since Monday, but even with an extended break off the ice there’s no shortage of news coming out of Glendale. Wednesday marked the latest escalation in a saga that has plagued the team for years, as it received notice from the City of Glendale that it must pay taxes owed from 2020-21, or else face eviction prior to the end of the season. In other, more uplifting news, the team is hosting both food and toy drives in December, and NHL journeyman Loui Eriksson recently celebrated a major career milestone.
There’s plenty to discuss, so let’s dive in!
Coyotes Delinquent on Taxes, Face Eviction From Gila River Arena
Just one week after a stunning report from Forbes that indicated the team was for sale, a story the team’s front office vehemently denied, The Athletic’s Katie Strang broke news Wednesday night that Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps notified Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez that the team has until Dec. 20 to pay $1.3 million in back taxes, or it will face eviction from its current home, Gila River Arena (from ‘Coyotes could be locked out of home arena by City of Glendale for unpaid arena charges, delinquent tax bills’, The Athletic, 12/8/2021).
The letter was confirmed by both NHL insider Craig Morgan and azcentral.com as well.
This is just the latest in a long-standing dispute between Glendale and the team, and tensions escalated earlier this season when the city informed the team it would not renew its lease following the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. The Coyotes have since submitted a bid to nearby Tempe to develop a large plot of land into an entertainment district, but have received pushback to their initial proposal, and still have no solution for where they will call home in the immediate future.
The team released a statement late Wednesday, stating the back taxes were a result of “unfortunate human error,” and the team would ensure its bills are current as soon as Thursday.
Fans would be forgiven if they’re not immediately convinced that this is the end of the drama, considering the never-ending dispute between the team and the city. If history is any indication, the friction — not to mention the story’s twists and turns — is far from over.
Team Set to Host Holiday Food and Toy Drives
In news that is far more uplifting, the Coyotes announced Wednesday they are teaming up with local grocer Fry’s, Glendale’s Fire and Police Departments, and the Indigenous Community Collaborative/Cahokia to host both food and toy drives this month.
The team is partnering with the grocer in support of Fry’s Food Stores and Arizona’s Family Holiday Food Drive, and is asking fans to donate non-perishable food items at any gate prior to Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers. The following night, as the Coyotes prepare to host the Philadelphia Flyers, they are hosting a toy drive, asking for new, unwrapped toys for children. Those who donate will have the opportunity to meet and greet team alumni.
Arizona is also hosting a Toy Drive for indigenous communities, group homes, and indigenous non-profits prior to its game against the New York Rangers on Dec. 15, and those who donate that night will have the same opportunity to meet and interact with former players.
“The Arizona Coyotes are proud to support these important food and toy drives during the holiday season,” Gutierrez said in a release. “We believe that every child deserves the feeling of joy that a thoughtful gift brings this time of year and it’s our responsibility as a community leader to help those in need. We invite all of our tremendous fans to help us make a difference by donating toys and food items at select games in December.”
Eriksson Celebrates 1000th Game Played
Monday’s loss to the Dallas Stars marked the 1,000th game played for Loui Eriksson, as he became the 360th player in NHL history to celebrate the milestone, and the 14th in the history of the organization, which also dates back to the Winnipeg Jets years. The 36-year-old forward is the 14th Swede to reach the threshold.
He’s just three points away from 600 career points, having logged 250 goals and 347 assists since joining the league in 2007, and has spent time with the Stars, Boston Bruins, and Vancouver Canucks, along with the Coyotes. King Loui has three points, all assists, this season.
On Deck for the Coyotes
Arizona returns to play Friday against the Panthers, the first of two games on back-to-back nights for the team. The Coyotes will play three straight games at home before hitting the road for a west coast swing that includes games in Anaheim, Vancouver, and Seattle.
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A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.