With relocation rumors surrounding the Arizona Coyotes - the team is still committed to its fans
Depending on which part of North America (or even the world) you might be reading this article from the title might surprise you. Yet, it is entirely true; and throughout the text, we will reach the points to emphasize the true reality of the hockey market in Arizona.
There is a general perception in different hockey markets that the Arizona Coyotes are one of the biggest failures in the NHL. History has proven from a financial standpoint that this argument is valid as the team has failed to make a profit and usually is attached to a "survival mode" mentality.
But there is another trend to the model, despite the trouble to find a new downtown arena in the Valley area, or getting more fans to games in Gila River Arena - there is one thing the Arizona Coyotes were able to create that no other NHL franchise has yet to do.
Their commitment to the development of hockey in the state of Arizona has helped those in need with the Arizona Coyotes Foundation. The partnership has given back with numerous local programs and the involvement with fans to make them by far the NHL franchise most involved in its community.
The situation in Glendale for the team is not the most ideal. The arena deal is renewed year-to-year instead of a long-term deal like other NHL franchises which just enhances the rumors of a possible relocation or new ownership.
On the ice the future is bright
The team is in a playoff a hunt, with great prospects in its organization such as Clayton Keller, Christian Fischer, Nick Schmaltz, and Conor Garland.
For many teams, the results on the ice, ticket sales, and revenues go hand-in-hand. A considerable improvement in Arizona hockey not only with the Coyotes but with the AHL Tucson Roadrunners and the NCAA with Arizona State University is apparent. More and more players are making the NHL from the state such as stars Auston Matthews, Brady Tkachuk, and his brother Matthew Tkachuk.
The struggles for the franchise many times has been a lack of attraction for the team to re-sign or sign UFA players. It is very uncommon to hear from a player that "he wants to be a Coyote" but that scenario is slowly changing.
For a long time, captain Shane Doan personified the Coyotes' identity with his loyalty to the team admired by many not only in the valley. Recently, when general manager John Chayka was able to sign Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an 8-year extension deal, the words many fans long waited for finally came true.
Ekman-Larsson's extension was a significant shift for the organization, as he chose to stay in Arizona and be a "Coyote." He was elevated to captain and under the storm of expectations from a fan base which wants results... the entire league is carefully watching.
Battling its way up no matter what
Whether or not the Coyotes' future in the desert is in its own hands is yet to be determined. Sometimes in the sport of hockey the puck can bounce in a funny way and go in and all the hard work of a game can be lost.
But there are no excuses on this team.
In the current season with a set of injuries that puts them with almost more salary cap on the injured reserve list than on the actual playing roster, the Coyotes are still only two points away from a playoff spot.
Throughout adversity, they are still playing hard every night.
Rick Tocchet's team might not have the best depth in the league or the best system, but the special teams' penalty kill is ranked 1st overall and that is commendable. They don't go away and there no excuses which is the definition of hockey the hard way.
Only time will tell how successful this story will be. Since 1996 it has been a great ride and hopefully, it will continue for many years to come.
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