As the Coyotes ready themselves for Saturday’s game against the Red Wings in Detroit, two cities are outside their respective legislature’s office, advocating for the presence of a single NHL franchise. Frantic phone calls are being made to anyone involved in the decision. Thousands of status updates and tweets are begging the team to call their city home.
Fantasy sure does beat reality.
An ultimatum from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to the City of Glendale and prospective Coyotes owner Matthew Hulsizer is expected within the next few days demanding the sale of the team be completed or else, but most Phoenix sports fans aren’t concerned with the future of the franchise that arguably has the best shot of any Arizona team at being a championship winner in the next five years.
Phoenix is a town full of bandwagon and transplant fans and the NHL knew the Phoenix Coyotes would struggle for popularity. A game played on ice just sounds odd when it’s taking place in an area that regularly sees highs in the 100s. But the NHL had faith.
The Winnipeg Jets left a town that was through with them. Attendance numbers were dropping, the owner was refusing to spend what it takes to build a Stanley Cup-potential team and politicians were dilly-dallying about restoring a dilapidated stadium.
Sorry Jets fans, but the truth hurts.
Yet after all the rollercoaster seasons of Coyotes hockey, it looks as if the team could be on their way out the door and heading back to Winnipeg. Proponents of the move are sounding off, saying the team has low attendance and no owner capable of building a successful team. So why even bother to keep them around?
The NHL has faith in a Coyotes franchise, not a Jets.
Winnipeg had their shot. For 24 years, the River City had a team. They cheered for them (some still do) and bemoaned their departing for Arizona. Those fans were there through the thick and thin and want their Jets to fly back home, but it’s not time for the Coyotes to leave. Hulsizer needs to push this deal through now.
The Coyotes have all the makings of a long-time franchise. Transplant fans, though still loyal to their “hometown” team, support the Coyotes because they reside here. Bandwagon fans jump on when a team is doing well, much like the Coyotes have been the past two years, and can eventually be turned into true fans. Jobing.com arena, once surrounded by cattle fields, is now the heart of a booming Westgate mall.
The Coyotes have the foundations of becoming a permanent asset in the Valley; they just need time and an owner – and faith.