Rabid Habs

Around the NHL – Week of June 8-14

Arizona Coyotes

Glendale City Council Votes to nix arena deal

This week, Glendale city council voted 5-2 to nix their lease agreement with the Arizona Coyotes. The potential implications are huge. What this means is the Arizona Coyotes are left without a home arena to play in. This opens the door for owner Andrew Barroway to move the team to a more viable hockey market such as Seattle or Quebec City.  Note: The Arizona Coyotes and the NHL were granted a temporary injunction that prevents the team from moving for the time being. Right from 1996 when the team moved to Glendale from Winnipeg, the Coyotes have struggled to attract fans to their games. The team is fighting to establish itself in a market where there is an NBA team (Phoenix Suns), NFL team (Arizona Cardinals) and MLB team (Arizona Diamondbacks). It certainly doesn’t help matters that the teams the Coyotes have iced have been fairly inept. I am not surprised that city council has finally had enough of the financial burden placed on them. We’ve seen it happen a number of times with Arizona where the NHL has approached city council and begged for more money to keep the team in Glendale. The meetings have all been public and well attended by the die-hard fans. Every time, the city council has relented to the public pressure and voted to hand the team more money. For several years the team was owned by the NHL because no owner would take the risk of buying the team and losing money. We are likely a ways away from the team moving as this will go through the Arizona and US court system. However, below are three potential places where the Coyotes could move (in no particular order):

Seattle

Seattle would be a natural fit for a hockey team with the Canucks being three hours away. There are not many pro sports teams to compete with (Seahawks and Mariners). The big stumbling block is Seattle currently has no arena. Seattle should have no problem attracting fans given their proximity to Canada. I believe Seattle is the second likeliest location for an NHL team.

Las Vegas

Place your bets hockey fans. Soon the NHL could be coming to the gambling mecca that is Las Vegas. Of the three teams listed here, this is arguably the most likely to get an NHL team. For the NHL to enter this market is a massive risk. Currently, the ECHL team on a year long hiatus, is struggling to fill half their arena. Not to mention the massive risk associated with having a team in a gambling mecca. The NHL seems to be warmest to the idea of Las Vegas getting a team. Las Vegas is in the process of building their arena.

Quebec City 

Quebec City is the most ready to host a hockey team as it has an NHL ready arena already built. The big issue is there are currently two more teams in the east than the west. As well, Quebec City has already failed in the NHL once (Nordiques) so there is the question of whether hockey is viable in the NHL. In my opinion, any team in Canada will be successful. The big challenge is competing with an existing team out of the same province. Toronto and Ottawa co-exist and are both successful so it can be done. Quebec City is the least likely of these three teams to get their team back at the moment. However, if Florida or an Eastern team were to relocate then Quebec City would certainly be strongly considered but not for a Western team.

The coming months will be very interesting…