The Phoenix Coyotes’ relocation now has another obstacle out of the way. Now that the Coyotes are out of the playoffs, their move back to Winnipeg could be made official sooner. The relocation rumors have persisted ever since the NHL had to take over the team two years ago, and now the league may be insisting on a move. If this was the last year for hockey in Phoenix, it didn’t end on a high note, with the Red Wings finishing off their sweep.
Last season, the Coyotes overcame their ownership problems and questions about their future in Phoenix to finish fourth in the Western Conference. They had home ice for a Game 7 against the defending conference champion Red Wings, but they couldn’t protect it.
However, that bitter ending tasted a little better than the end for this season. The team once again had their season end in a home loss to the Red Wings – but in a Game 4 instead of a Game 7. In addition, their 6-3 defeat may have brought an end to the franchise’s time in Phoenix, and left them ready to go back to their old home.
It has been 15 years since the club left Winnipeg, but now it could become the Jets again before long. A potential relocation to Winnipeg has been proposed by Canada’s True North Sports & Entertainment Company. True North is the leading contender to buy the team from the NHL, although Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer is trying to win out and keep them in Phoenix.
Various reports in the Canadian press last week suggested that Hulsizer was out, and that True North was in final negotiations with the league. Yet Hulsizer attended Game 4 last night, and appears to have not given up. However, a final defeat could come if the Canadian watchdog group Goldwater Institute sues the city of Glendale over the $100 million bonds the city wants to sell to aid Hulsizer’s efforts.
It says something that the Coyotes’ salvation could be Winnipeg, after financial concerns caused them to move out of that city 15 years ago. But Phoenix did not stabilize the franchise for long, as it seems that it is destined to have troubled finances no matter where it goes. However, Winnipeg and its long-suffering hockey fans are hoping to prove themselves in a long awaited second chance.
The West Coast and Southwest haven’t been a stable sports home lately, as the NBA’s Sacramento Kings could move to Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers had to be taken over by Major League Baseball. This potential relocation is unique, however, as the Coyotes could return to Winnipeg in the same way that they left it.
Winnipeg Free Press- “The Bettman ultimatum”
Phoenix Business Journal- “Goldwater group: No financial power play from Coyotes opposition”
Canadian Business- “Would-be Coyotes owner Matthew Hulsizer attends Game 4 but situation murky”
Yahoo Sports- “Red Wings sweep Coyotes, possibly out of desert”