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Phoenix Coyotes finally on the move?

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Martin Hanzal (center) and the Coyotes could be leaving the desert behind as early as the end of this season. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Stories of the Coyotes leaving Phoenix are like tales of Bigfoot: everyone’s heard them, and no one’s believing anything until they see it for themselves.

Get ready to believe.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported during tonight’s Boston-Montreal game that while the NHL is continuing efforts to keep the team in place, a decision to relocate the team could come before the start of the playoffs.

Dreger said the league will continue to meet with prospective buyers, but time is running out on the market. To be honest, time ran out years ago, but the league has kept the team on life support far beyond the point of common sense.

It’s notable that the news is coming from Dreger, a reporter whose close connections to the league are well known. If he’s breaking this, someone in the home office wants it out there.

Quebec City, Seattle and Kansas City would appear to be the most likely destinations, with Quebec City considered the early favorite. Of course, if that happens, it reopens the league’s realignment plans for next season, which means Columbus could possibly be headed back to the Western Conference.

It’s all speculation at this point, of course. We’ll have more information as it becomes available.

  • Published On Mar 27, 2013
  • 1 comments
    James C
    James C

    I still think the NHL is in a position where it needs to expand two more teams. 

     

    Quebec City and Seattle should have NHL teams, and to make scheduling easier they should have 32 teams. 

     

    I think Phoenix does need to move, but the question is where to. KC is not an option I really like. It is only the 30th biggest metro area in the US, and it has little hockey history that I know of.

     

    Personally beyond adding teams in Quebec City and Seattle to the fold.

     

    Here are the cities in the US I would consider moving Phoenix to in order.

     

    1) Portland, Oregon.  The Pacific Northwest has a growing hockey culture and this is a bigger Metro area than is KC. 

     

    2) Houston, Texas. I'm not in favor of another southern team, but they already have a decent hockey arena that seats over 17,000. The problem is they have an AHL team affiliated with Minnesota and partially owned by Minnesota, who likely would block a move into their market. 

     

    3) Salt Lake City. The city already has a professional sports background (NBA and MLS), and has hosted the Olympics previously. 

     

    4) Cleveland, Ohio. They have a history of hockey teams, but that is both good and bad. No less than 8 professional franchises in various leagues have called Cleveland home. This includes the short lived Cleveland Barons which were in the NHL from 1974-1976 before they merged with Minnesota and ceased operations (last professional team in a major sport to do so). 

     

    5) Las Vegas- They lack any professional teams, which would have a decent draw if they moved there. The problem is the professional leagues are so worried about sports betting that they likely don't want that potential influence corrupting the sport. 

     

    6) Grand Rapids, Mi. West Michigan lack any professional top tier teams. They are the 52nd largest metor area in the country, but when you include the lakeshore are of Muskegon, Grand Haven, and Holland, the potential fan base increases drastically. The west Michigan region also is missing one other thing. Ottawa, Kent, Muskegon, and Allegan Counties all lack a Division I college athletic program. An NHL franchise would be a big draw because there is not a huge competition for fans like in the other cities on this list. With no major professional or major college programs within 60 miles (MSU in E. Lansing is closest), this could be a good fit. Chicago (which has a lot of West Michigan fans), and Detroit (the AHL team is a Red Wings affiliate) would likely balk at such a move.