Things Are Changing in Coyotes Land!

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Lots of Changes from the top to the bottom –

There sure have been a lot of changes to the resident hockey team in Glendale this year.  Let’s start with the team’s name.  As of June 27, 2014, the Phoenix Coyotes are no more!  They officially introduced themselves as the Arizona Coyotes at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia.

New Name

From Co-Owner, President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc:

“We are very excited that our franchise will change its name to the Arizona Coyotes at the NHL Entry Draft this week.  Becoming the Arizona Coyotes makes sense for us since we play our games in Glendale and the city is such a great partner of ours.  We also want to be recognized as not just the hockey team for Glendale or Phoenix, but the team for the entire state of Arizona and the Southwest.  We hope that the name ‘Arizona’ will encourage more fans from all over the state, not just the valley, to embrace and support our team.”

So for the first time since 1996 when the Coyotes re-located from Winnipeg, they will have a different name.  Some would say it was about time and I tend to agree with them.

New Arena Name

Next major change came on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, when the Coyotes Co-Owner, President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc and the Gila River Casinos announced the name change of their home rink to Gila River Arena.  

From Anthony LeBlanc:

“This is an exciting day for us.  It’s the culmination of many months working to ensure that we have a naming rights partner that we feel proud of.  We feel that we can help each other.  When we took ownership, it became evident that they were really the group that we wanted to work with to put their name on our building.”

The Coyotes have been playing in this arena since 2003 when it was originally called Glendale Arena and then later named Jobing.com Arena.  The Coyotes were allowed to end their 10-year deal with Jobing.com as a condition of IceArizona’s purchase of the team last summer. 

New Players

Nothing new to NHL teams but a couple of major changes came on the ice where longtime veteran defenceman Derek Morris was not offered a contract.  UFA, Radim Vrbata, one of the Coyotes top scoring wingers, couldn’t come to contract terms with the Coyotes and signed a contract with conference rivals, the Vancouver Canucks.  Also gone were back-up goaltender, Thomas Greiss and the popular Paul Bissonette.

The Arizona Coyotes added new players Sam Gagner, B.J. Crombeen, Joe Vitale, Devan Dubnyk and expectations for the 2014-15 season were positive.  The Coyotes management and coaching staff along with the players would think, and rightfully so, that they would once again contend for a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference.  And why not?  After all, they only missed the playoffs by two points in 2013-14 and if not for some bad luck and untimely injuries (Mike Smith) they looked like a solid playoff team.

Another New Owner

Nobody saw this one coming but on October 10, 2014, the Arizona Coyotes announced that an agreement to sell 51 percent of the franchise to Andrew Barroway.  The sale and ownership transfer is subject to approval by the NHL’s Board of Governors but once the transaction is approved and closing has occurred Barroway will begin to serve as the Coyotes Chairman and Governor.

From Andrew Barroway:

“This is truly a dream come true for me and my family.  I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity of a lifetime and look forward to working and solidifying a strong partnership with the Club’s current ownership group.

As a group we are committed to serving our fans with a new level of excellence and our collective goal is to put a competitive team on the ice every season and, one day, win the Stanley Cup.”

From Co-Owner, President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc:

“Today is an exciting day for the Arizona Coyotes and our great fans.  The addition of Andrew Barroway to our ownership group further solidifies the Coyotes long-term future in the Valley.  Our entire ownership group is excited about this opportunity to work with Andrew in taking this franchise to the next level. It’s a great day for hockey in Arizona!”

When the deal was first announced, it raised some red flags in the hockey community but the truth of the matter is this transaction was a good business decision for IceArizona and helped eliminate some ownership hurdles (tax implications) with them being Canadians.  This transaction helped to solidify their commitment to keeping hockey alive and well in the valley.

From Co-Owner George Gosbee:

“Selling every stake in the club was on the table, but a tax issue forced a restructuring of the financing and 51 per cent was agreed upon.  We’re protected by a lot things.  Fifty-one per cent doesn’t give you a hall pass to do whatever you want.  It’s a partnership.”

The Team

After the usual early season optimism, it isn’t looking great on the ice right now after the Coyotes first month of the season.  They can’t score and even worse they can’t keep the puck out of their net.  This does not look like any of Dave Tippett’s previous incarnations of Coyotes hockey.  If things don’t start changing soon, the Yotes may end up being closer to the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel Sweepstakes than they are to a post season playoff berth.  

Tough Schedule  

The Coyotes finished the month of October with a 3 – 5 – 1 record and now play 15 games in 30 days in the month of November with 9 of those games on the road.  The Yotes are off to a good start in November with a win vs Washington on the final game of their four game road trip, then a big home win versus Toronto and finally beating the arch-rival Ducks 3-2 in a shootout Friday night in Anaheim. A 3-0 start in November is a good sign and they’ve evened their record to 6 – 6 – 1!  The best news is that Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith looks to have found his game.   

Outlook

Things are looking very good for the franchise off the ice in spite of the fact it looks like they are projected to lose money again this season but ownership is confident they will be on the positive side of the ledger next year and beyond.  Losing is not an option right now for this team.  They can’t afford to turn away patrons with a losing team.  I can see G.M. Don Maloney not wasting any time to right the ship.  I hope he has the backing of this new ownership line-up to get it done.  The eyes of the hockey world a watching closely.  

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Comments

  1. Robert Lee says:

    We won’t know until leadership emerges.
    It could go either way.
    I knew something was up when the previous majority owners quit tweeting, stopped with the false enthusiasm, didn’t mention tailgates anymore and turned it all off like water turning off when you close the tap.
    That’s not saying they are bad guys . They aren’t.
    They are businessmen. Good businessmen first and foremost.
    And looking at the numbers, we are just at the new ownership’s mercy.
    A decision to leave would be understandable based upon the past.
    A decision to stay and really work on getting that fan base built along with the team and franchise would be a gutsy and inspirational decision and one that I hope us made.

  2. Mitch Kasprick says:

    I hope I’m not being naive but I truly believe the Barroway sale was for tax implications … but IceArizona did turn a nice profit on that 51% of the team.

  3. Robert Lee says:

    I don’t think your naive either , it’s great to have that kind of faith.
    I just think it’s not a coincidence that these ice ARIZONA GUYS CAME in with no money to make the product better THEN flipped the club for a nice profit
    That in a nut she’ll is what guys in their business do.
    Speculative type stuff, hedge fund type stuff..
    That’s exactly what it is all about.
    I think anyway…..
    My only experience is what I read ha
    Primarily it fits exactly what I read in an article by Matt? Taibbe in Rolling Stone Magazine specifically about Romney who was in a simar business….
    So I’m just blowing smoke ha

  4. Robert Lee says:

    Either way, I’m a fan to the end full STH and Lot G
    I’m ALL IN
    The new owners just need to tell me when to turn out the lights, the party’s over if it comes to that..

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