Arizona Coyotes will return, prove how inept Alex Meruelo truly was

Jun 25, 2024, 6:05 PM

Fans hold up signs before the NHL game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Arizona Coyotes at Mulle...

Fans hold up signs before the NHL game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena on April 17, 2024 in Tempe, Arizona. Tonight's game likely marks the end of 28 years for the franchise, playing in the NHL's smallest arena with an anticipated move to Utah with the team's expected sale to the NBA's Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Our next NHL franchise will be different. It will represent the best of us, along with our vengeance.  

It will prove we were a great hockey city all along. 

Our next NHL franchise will be worth the wait. We have lost a talented, homegrown team to a smaller market in Salt Lake City. But we have been liberated from a bad owner, an edgy billionaire who peddled in wild ideas while ignoring his bills and generally paying by his own set of rules. Good riddance. 

Good owners use their fortunes to pursue a greater, more lasting brand of wealth, the kind that comes with greatness and glory and championship parades. Bad owners can’t see past the money. They tend to stick around for decades. They can poison a good sports town.

Alex Meruelo will be remembered as one of the worst. He connected with no one. He saw no value in political capital or public relations. He was evicted in Glendale and butchered a vote in Tempe. He either didn’t care or didn’t know that sports franchises are public trusts that must serve and reflect their communities, businesses that rely on collaboration and goodwill. 

Really. How dumb must an owner be to allow an underling to ostracize and insult Shane Doan, one of the greatest captains and brand ambassadors in the NHL?

Incredibly, we’ve had two of them in Arizona. Surely, you remember a previous owner who sent an underqualified general manager to fire Doan over breakfast.  

But only Meruelo could accomplish what no other forces of darkness ever could. He was the owner who drove Doan to another NHL franchise. 

The incompetence is staggering, and you wonder how ultra-rich people can be so stupid. Are they blinded by greed? Or is it greed that makes them wealthy in the first place? Is it the bootlickers and sycophants who insulate their lives, nodding their heads with every poor decision? 

The next owner of the Coyotes must be better. We must find our hockey version of Mat Ishbia, who has already hit for the trifecta in the Valley. He replaced the reviled Robert Sarver; he spends wildly on basketball players; and has publicly vowed his stewardship to every sports fan in the Valley. He’s shown the kind of awareness you don’t always get with billionaires. 

Our next NHL franchise will also face a tough decision. Will they still be the Coyotes? Or will they be blessed with a new name entirely? For most of their 28 years in the Valley, the Coyotes were a pit of dysfunction. Whenever they became a talking point in the Valley, it was for something scandalous or bizarre. As in, what have they done now? 

With all due respect for the kachina jersey, part of me wants to turn the brand into a smoking pile of ash. But maybe we do exactly the opposite. Maybe we embrace the ugliness of our history as a sign of our toughness and our resilience.  After all, our hockey team left us. We are not running away from anything.  

Either way, our next NHL franchise will be different from the top down. They will skate on a clean slate. We will accept nothing less. 

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Arizona Coyotes will return, prove how inept Alex Meruelo truly was