Hit the 'Reset' Button

They're staying.

Yes, that's really all you need to know, isn't it? Let the heads shake and the tongues roll but it's not going to get anyone very far. At least not this year.

While Coyotes' fans do get to heave a sigh of relief, let it be known that they're also feeling the bitterness of seemingly everyone else in the league, but in a different manner. Not only because they've endured this real-life version of snakes and ladders for two years, but because they're right back at square one.

Photo: phoenixcoyotes.com

The Glendale City Council agreed 5-2 late Tuesday to pay the National Hockey League up to an additional $25 million so the Phoenix Coyotes could stay another year in the desert.

The vote came at the end of a standing-room-only meeting that stretched longer than three hours.
The council meeting was the most fractious since Glendale's battle to keep the professional hockey team began publicly two years ago with the team's bankruptcy.


The Coyotes still lost $37 million last season and posted among the lowest attendance in the league. But the Coyotes are the arena's main tenant, attracting thousands of fans to Glendale during 41 games per season.

Glendale uses sales taxes from fans' dining and shopping at the adjacent Westgate City Center as well as team payments to pay off the $180 million the city spent to open the arena in 2003.
The pledge allows Glendale to continue work on an arena lease with team buyer Matthew Hulsizer through the 2011-12 season. In return, Glendale agrees to cover team and arena losses for a second season of up to $25 million, until a team buyer takes over.

There is still a chance that this could take place, but the longer it doesn't, the less Coyotes' GM Don Maloney will have to work with to attract potential free agents, and the even more daunting task: to keep the key members of the status quo in place. Whether it be in Glendale, Scottsdale, Winnipeg or the North Pole, a team needs to win to be able to grow in the right direction. The sweep by the Red Wings was more of a gut-wrencher than any other series for this reason--because they hadn't done it. Now Keith Yandle, just short of a Norris trophy nomination, is a restricted free agent. Ilya Bryzgalov, whose opinion on moving to certain cities is well-documented, is an unrestricted free agent. Shane Doan has only one year left on his contract. Uncertainty, and its repeated presence in this franchise, will do worlds of damage to the ultimate goal: winning.

And that won't change no matter where they are.


George Prax's picture

IMO this isn't the right move. It's just delaying the inevitable. The Coyotes aren't going to be magically profitable next year and they're not going to magically begin attracting fans. It's just going to piss people off for another year, and it's just going to make Maloney's job and the players' job harder for another year on the hockey ops side.

That said, Atlanta's a better fit for Winnipeg, so whatever.