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NHL · 1 week ago

Coyotes Relocation – A Poetic End for a Doomed Franchise

Grant White

Gary Bettman deserves a ton of credit for as much flack as he gets.

Most people initially scoffed at the idea of NHL teams surviving in the sunshine belt. Yet, here we are 30 years since Bettman took control, chewing the cud of an expanding league thriving in the Southern States.

All four teams in this year’s Conference Finals relocated or expanded into non-traditional markets under Bettman’s watch. This, after a two-year reign from the Tampa Bay Lightning and another Stanley Cup-winning campaign from the Colorado Avalanche, another team that moved with Bettman’s consent.

As good as his track record has been for helping NHL franchises succeed, there’s a blemish on his record that just won’t go away — the Arizona Coyotes. 

Despite years of intervention, the Desert Dogs can never seem to gain any traction. They’ve survived bankruptcy, a gambling incident, and being arena-less (once), hoping things would eventually work out. Yet here we are after a season of playing in a 3,000-person capacity college arena, and the Coyotes still don’t have a forever home. 

But that could make this pill so hard to swallow for Bettman. With his history of getting the most out of these teams, the NHL’s Commissioner is unwilling to concede that having a professional hockey team in Arizona just isn’t going to pan out. 

Still, the writing is on the wall, and it’s time for the Coyotes to find a new home.

Quebec City

The least likely destination for the Coyotes would be Quebec City, but that won’t stop Canadian hockey fans from dreaming. 

One of the most significant issues of moving the Coyotes to the Eastern part of Canada is that it would necessitate re-alignment. Although it wouldn’t be so hard to say a former Western Conference team like the Detroit Red Wings or Columbus Blue Jackets are now a part of the Central Division, the logistics probably aren’t that cut and dried in the background. 

The more noteworthy concern is that the league has already tried this experiment and failed. The Quebec City Nordiques endured many lean years, and their fanbase reflected those challenges. The Nordiques struggled with attendance, and as good as the on-ice product was in their final year, it wasn’t enough to save the franchise from moving.

The salt in the wound is the Avalanche won the Cup their first year in Denver. Now, Quebec City sends 10,000 people a night to watch a major junior team. Unfortunately, that might be the closest they get to replacing the Nordiques.

Kansas City

If we’ve learned one thing from the Ottawa Senators sale, the NHL loves a celebrity spearheading the charge. What better endorsement than Patrick Mahomes stepping up and telling the Coyotes to move to Kansas City?

Local officials have been canvassing NHL and NBA executives for a professional franchise for years, and now one could land right in their laps. Desperate for a fresh start, Kansas City could be the quick and easy solution for the Coyotes. 

Of course, the NHL has already expanded into Missouri, and their foray lasted just a few years. That’s not to say it won’t be successful the second time around, but going back to KC instead of Quebec would be a slap in the face to La Belle Province. 


In true Bettman style, the most likely destination for the Yotes is the least desirable one. Houston appears to be the frontrunner to land the franchise. 

Logistically, it makes sense. According to the 2020 census, the Metropolitan Houston area is the fourth-largest city in the USA. Moreover, they have the infrastructure in place with the Toyota Center, allowing the Coyotes to share an NHL-caliber venue without sinking any additional costs.

Landing in the Lone Star State would be a fitting end for a tumultuous franchise. Houston-based professional teams don’t have the best records lately. Over the past three seasons, the Rockets have a .250 winning percentage. Sadly, that’s an improvement over what we’ve seen from the Texans, who have a .230 percentage over the same span. Winning-wise, the Coyotes would fit right in.

Given their penchant for supporting underwhelming teams, it might take a little longer for Houston to reject an NHL franchise. But, if nothing else, Bettman will give it 25 years or so to see how it plays out.


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