Boy oh boy, gang.
Here we are again. Only a few years after the league fought pretty damn hard to wring a few million more a year in taxpayer money out of the good — also: gullible — people of Glendale, the league is also now saying the Glendale situation is really bad and no one could have foreseen how bad it is and by golly it’s just gotta change at this point.
This week Gary Bettman sent a letter to state lawmakers to let them know the Glendale arena is “not economically capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise,” which, y’know, who could have seen that coming? The city terminated its long-term agreement with the team, which it shouldn’t have signed in the first place, and that’s why we’re at where we’re at.
So hey it turns out they need a new arena because the team “cannot and will not remain in Glendale,” which is very fun. All involved apparently remain committed to keeping the team in Arizona — after all, you can’t produce Auston Matthews and then have the league ghost on you — but now Bettman is rattling his saber pretty hard about not letting state or local lawmakers in the region buy into Glendale’s song and dance about not letting the Coyotes move there.
“The team has got a number of options and is going to pursue them so nobody should think that team is moving other than out of Glendale,” Bettman told reporters. “But short-term they’re going to stay in Glendale while they’re pursuing the options.”
Honestly, at this point, just get out of Arizona. This is such a dumb thing. They just moved to Glendale eight years ago. The league had to own the team for a while because it was such a disaster and no one wanted it. While I’m sure all involved will work hard to stay in the greater Phoenix area, here’s are six backup plans so we maybe don’t have to do all this again in less than a decade:
I’m just kidding.
6. Kansas City
Hey, remember this? This is one of the hits, baby!
Whenever teams were in trouble about 10 years ago, it was all, “Oh Kansas City new rink new fun market they have an NFL team and a baseball team so why not an NHL team? Maybe the Penguins! Maybe the Sabres! You won’t know whether you’ll like it until you try it out!”
And sure, now the Sprint Center — opened in 2007 — is getting up there a little bit in terms of arena age. The features aren’t all as nice as you’d perhaps like them to be. But you know what it’s near? A population center. And you know who might show up there? More than like 13,000 people.
They sold out a Kings/Penguins preseason game there once, and isn’t that so nice? Oh but wait, just this year the Capitals and Blues played there and less than 12,000 people showed up.
Y’know what, maybe never mind.
It was only about a month ago that there was a report out of a Glendale paper saying the Coyotes sent team officials to Portland and Seattle. The report came out right after the Tempe arena deal with Arizona State fell through, quoting a spokesman from Key Arena in Seattle who said the Coyotes were “part of” a cadre of potential ownership groups that recently toured the building.
No source was directly quoted for the Portland link.
But hey, they have a thriving young population in Portland, and people there are crazy about both the Trailblazers and the Timbers. And we know the Moda Center can support hockey, since the Winterhawks play part of the season there. Accommodations could likely be made for an NHL team.
Of course, the Coyotes came out and forcefully denied the report, which kinda makes sense. I don’t know. I think I just want a team in Portland so I can move there and cover it. Get at me, Portland newspapers.
This is the big one for the NHL, you’d have to think.
Bettman has almost certainly been drawing little hearts around crude drawings of the Seattle skyline, but there’s no arena and no real plan to get one built any time soon. The whole thing still seems really dependent on the city getting an NBA team again first.
And more to the point, the words Bettman is writing next to the heart-y skyline drawings are, “Mr. and Mrs. Seattle Expansion Team.” One imagines the league would very much prefer not to actually just have someone relocate to such a good market. As a last resort? Sure. As a first choice? Probably not.
3. A Little Place You May Have Heard Of Called…….. The Greater Toronto Area. Ever Heard Of It?
Leafs ownership hates this one simple trick for the league to print money!
The idea of a second team in or near Toronto is a really good one given that the Leafs are the money-makingest franchise in the league by a decent margin. Would people show up for a brand new team, especially one as rotten as the Coyotes appear poised to be for the next few years? I can’t imagine, especially because the Leafs likewise appear poised to take off in that same time.
But with that having been said, if you can have two even remotely successful franchises in that region, look out. Salary cap at $89 million very soon! Ratings through the roof every night! Another rival for the Leafs to pretend they care about (sorry Ottawa)!
Of course the Leafs aren’t going to let that happen without a big payday. The Coyotes do not have the money to give the Leafs a big payday, a small payday, or maybe even a Payday bar.
2. Quebec City
Even if it’s just so we never have to hear about how Quebec needs a team and so those mean Francophones will stop picking on the poor Hurricanes.
They have the arena, which is the most beautiful hockey venue in the world, so we’re told. Wouldn’t it be so good to put a team there where they belong and take it out of Arizona where everyone actually hates hockey and Auston Matthews is really from Manitoba anyway.
Of course, this is another big “Wouldn’t the NHL just want the expansion money?” market, and moreover with the addition of Vegas the last thing we need is another Eastern Conference team to un-rebalance the standings. We need teams in the West, and the Red Wings and Blue Jackets will complain forever if you try to make them go back.
1. Literally Anywhere In The United States. I Really Don’t Care. Just Not Arizona
Please, I am begging you. My family is sick.
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