Potential Destinations If the Coyotes Move

Potential Destinations If the Coyotes Move

If the Arizona Coyotes relocate, where could they go?

The never-ending saga over the Arizona Coyotes’ future took an interesting turn last week. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested the club could move if the Arizona state legislature failed to authorize $225 million in public funds to construct a new arena in (or near) downtown Phoenix.

Since 2003, the Coyotes have played in Glendale, about nine miles from downtown Phoenix. Over the last seven years, Issues over the club’s ownership and the arena lease with the city of Glendale have at various times raised questions over their future in Arizona.

Bettman walked back his previous statement, claiming the league isn’t giving up on Arizona as a hockey market. However, he stressed that a new arena closer to downtown Phoenix remains crucial to the franchise’s long-term future.

It remains to be seen, of course, if the state approves funding for a new arena. If not, moving the Coyotes out of Arizona could be among the league’s options. There’s been plenty of relocation chatter swirling about the franchise over the last seven years but nothing’s come of it.

Bettman and the league have stubbornly persisted in keeping the money-losing Coyotes in Arizona. Their patience, however, isn’t endless. Assuming there’s no new arena coming in the near future, they could bow to the inevitable and move the team.

Should the Coyotes move, Quebec City seems the obvious destination. It lost out on an expansion bid last year to Las Vegas and has a brand-new 18,259-seat venue (Centre Videotron) that’s perfect for an NHL franchise. Media giant Quebecor owns the new arena and could be keen to acquire a franchise.

The NHL has a history In Quebec City, as it was home to the Quebec Nordiques from 1979 to 1995 before that franchise was sold and moved to Colorado. It’s a great hockey town and returning there would would rekindle a once-intense rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens.

The downside, however, is market size. While the Quebec City metropolitan area grew in the two decades since the Nords’ departure, it would still be among the league’s smallest (over 800,000).

The province of Quebec is among the highest-taxed in Canada, which could be a downside for some players. It would also create a significant imbalance in the league’s current makeup, putting 17 franchises in the Eastern Conference and leaving 14 in the Western Conference.

Kansas City would be a much shorter move to a much-larger market (over 2.4 million). Like Quebec City, it has an NHL-ready arena (the 17,544-seat Sprint Center). K.C. had a short-lived NHL franchise (the Scouts) back in the mid-1970s. Moving there would keep the Coyotes in the Western Conference and could create a natural hockey rivalry with the St. Louis Blues.

However, no one’s stepped forward and indicated a willingness to put an NHL franchise in Kansas City. A potential owner would have to split arena revenue with the owners of the Sprint Center, Anschutz Entertainment Group.

During last year’s expansion bidding, there was talk of a couple of potential ownership groups interested in bringing a franchise to Seattle, Washington. It’s a market with a hockey history.

Early in the 20th century, the Metropolitans (1917 Stanley Cup champions) of the old Pacific Coach Hockey League called Seattle home. The Western Hockey League’s Thunderbirds have been in that city since 1977.  

Seattle has a huge market (over 4.4 million) and is close to Vancouver, BC, creating a potential natural rivalry with the Canucks. Moving there would also ensure the Coyotes remain in the Western Conference.

The biggest stumbling block, however, is the lack of a suitable venue to host an NHL franchise. A new arena is supposed to be constructed in the near future, but with emphasis on attracting a professional basketball franchise. Given the NHL’s current unhappy experience with the New York Islanders in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, it could balk at being second fiddle in a new Seattle venue. 

During the league’s great expansion in the 1990s, Portland, Oregon was sometimes brought up by the media as a possible destination for an NHL franchise. During the early years of the last decade, when a low Canadian dollar threatened the futures of the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, Portland was whispered as a potential relocation option for one of those franchises. 

Portland has an NHL-ready arena in the 18, 280-seat Moda Center. Like Seattle, it also hosts a WHL franchise (the Winterhawks). As with Kansas City and Seattle, it’s a big market (over 3.1 million) and moving the Coyotes there would keep them in the Western Conference.

But as with Kansas City, no one’s indicated any serious interest in bringing an NHL team to Portland. No bid was received during last year’s expansion process. 

What about returning to Hartford, Connecticut? That city housed an NHL franchise (Whalers) from 1979 to its relocation to Carolina in 1997. Hartford has a bigger market than Quebec City (over 1.4 million). The city and state are obviously keen to bring back the NHL, having recently asked the New York Islanders’ ownership to consider moving their franchise to the XL Center in downtown Hartford. There’s talk of doing millions in renovations to make the arena NHL-ready.

As with Kansas City and Portland, no potential owners have expressed interest in bringing a franchise back to Hartford. The Isles ownership isn’t expected to seriously consider relocating out of New York. Like Quebec City, moving the Coyotes there would create an imbalance among the conferences.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2017

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby collected his seventh shutout of the season in a 5-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Game recaps. injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Braden Holtby made 23 saves for his seventh shutout of the season as the Washington Capitals blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0. It was Holtby’s 30th career shutout and the 10th this season for the Capitals, a new franchise record. The Caps are also the first team to reach 80 points this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a big of a shaky start to this season, the Capitals found their groove and are pulling away from the rest of the pack in the Eastern Conference and the overall standings. 

Jason Pominville had two goals and two assists while goalie Devan Dubnyk made 38 saves to give the Minnesota Wild a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Tyler Myers underwent surgery to correct an unspecified lower-body injury and could miss six-to-eight weeks

Henrik Lundqvist made 43 saves and Michael Grabner scored twice as the New York Rangers downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-1, giving Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault his 600th career NHL win. 

Mikko Rantanen tallied his first career NHL hat trick and Calvin Pickard had a 27-save shutout as the Colorado Avalanche upset the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The once high-flying Canadiens are struggling, losing five of their last six games, four of those losses in regulation. 

Jake Allen had a 30-save shutout and Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice as the St. Louis Blues thumped the Ottawa Senators 6-0.

Ben Bishop made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and Nikita Kucherov tallied twice to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-0 blanking of the Los Angeles Kings. 

The Calgary Flames blew a 2-0 lead but went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to a shootout goal by Kris Versteeg. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected an assist for his 998th career NHL point. 

Evander Kane scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Buffalo Sabres overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks 5-4. 

Calle Jankrok and Viktor Arvidsson each netted a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators doubled up the Vancouver Canucks 4-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Canucks winger Sven Baertschi left the game with a suspected head injury. The Canucks also announced forward Anton Rodin underwent successful knee surgery and will be sidelined up to six months. 

Curtis McElhinney turned in a 39-save performance and Auston Matthew netted his 25th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Dallas Stars 3-1. 

Seth Jone’s overtime goal lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. 

PHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers rookie forward Travis Konecny will miss four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury. 

NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes winger Bryan Bickell, who’s suffering from multiple sclerosis, aims to return to the lineup within the last two weeks of February. 

TSN.CA: Rick Westhead reports the NHL has spent the past two years attempting to obtain all the interviews with former NHL players and their families (along with other corresponding documents) compiled by Boston University scientists studying brain injuries of former NHL players. Lawyers for the plaintiffs involved in a lawsuit against the NHL claim the league is attempting to cast doubt on the university’s research. 

ESPN.COM: The governor of Connecticut is proposing his state spending around $250 million in upgrading Hartford’s XL Center in hopes of attracting an NHL franchise. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  I’d love to see an NHL franchise back in Hartford, but I’m not getting my hopes up about that anymore than I am about the NHL returning to Quebec City. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel (81) scores in overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Game recaps, Ribeiro requests a trade, Elias leans toward retirement & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Phil Kessel scored twice, including the game winner in overtime, and set up another as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 after blowing a 3-1 lead. Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky netted two points.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored the game winner in his season debut to give the Florida Panthers a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Panthers goalie James Reimer picked up his 100th career NHL win. 

Mikael Backlund scored in overtime and T.J. Brodie collected four assists as the Calgary Flames beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Before the game, sidelined Devils forward Patrik Elias (recovering from knee surgery) hinted he’s leaning toward retirement. 

Sebastian Aho’s early third-period goal stood as the game winner as the Carolina Hurricanes nipped the Edmonton Oilers 2-1. 

Danny DeKeyser late third-period goal gave the Detroit Red Wings a 5-4 win over the New York Islanders, snapping the latter’s six-game points streak. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro was placed on waivers after he requested a trade. He was a healthy scratch in the Preds’ last three games and in five of the last eleven. He has 21 assists and 25 points in 46 games. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ribeiro’s a skilled playmaker, but at 37 he’s at the tail end of his career and dropped down the Predators’ depth chart this season. He also carries a $3.5 million salary-cap hit. We’ll find out later today if there’s a club willing to take a chance on him. 

MIAMI HERALD: Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola has withdrawn his nomination as President Trump’s Secretary of the Army, claiming that removing himself from his extensive business ties has proven insurmountable. 

NEWSDAY:  Connecticut’s governor and Hartford’s mayor have reached out to the New York Islanders, offering the use of Hartford’s XL Center if they leave Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d love to see the NHL return to Hartford, but I doubt the Islanders’ ownership and the league will consider that city as a possible replacement for Barclays Center.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Arizona State University has pulled out of a potential new arena plan that would bring the Arizona Coyotes to Tempe. 

TSN: Friday’s meeting in New York between the NHL, the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation was “a courtesy”, according to IOC Thomas Bach. He said he would leave further negotiations on NHL participation in the 2018 Winter Games in the hands of the league and the IOC. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While nothing of substance was accomplished, this meeting is being cautiously considered a positive step forward.