Something I have been wanting to discuss was brought to light a few days ago when it was reported that the Phoenix Coyotes were having financial troubles. You can read the full length article from ESPN here.
Jerry Moyes, the owner, is set to lose $30 million while the team is having trouble staying afloat with the NHL stepping in to look for new investors.
The one protection that the Coyotes have had against moving is the lease agreement with the city of Glendale where the mover would have to pay a very hefty price tag to just have the franchise move out of the desert. However, this protection is in jeopardy because if the team does go bankrupt, which is a distinct possibility, the lease would be null and void. A prospective buyer could swoop in (Jim Balisille) buy the team for a relatively cheap price and move them wherever.
So what does this mean? A team that is finally getting some luck on the ice with an acquisition like Ilya Bryzgalov last year and Olli Jokinen at the draft, the up and coming young players such as Peter Mueller, Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker, and others is getting bad luck elsewhere. Unfortunately, it is in an area that threatens the franchise's very existence.
I have already experienced the loss of a team when the Hartford Whalers moved down to Carolina in the late 90s. Sure I wasn't a die hard Whaler but I always liked them being from Connecticut. However, to lose a team that you passionately love is something I cannot imagine and would never wish it on anyone.
I will admit that Phoenix is a fair weather city. I have seen it with the Diamondbacks, the Suns, the Cardinals, and the Coyotes. When the teams are doing well, they draw fans but eventually it tapers off. I remember the Coyotes selling out America West Arena for playoff games and then seeing games where the arena was half empty. But for those few die hard fans, this team is everything to us and there is a bright future on the ice developing, something that has taken many years of losing and suffering. And all of that could be taken away in an instant.
Even though people may not know who the Coyotes are, I am proud to call myself a passionate Coyote fan. It is my hope that more fans start going to the games and see this great young team. Being young means alot of learning and losing but that should not discourage anyone from the bright future that is ahead for the franchise. The entire city of Phoenix should embrace this team that is on the brink of finally being relevant in the NHL again.
I have to say it would be one of the saddest days of my life if the Coyotes left Phoenix.