Puck the Media’s Top Ten Hockey Stories of the Year, #8: The Relocation Wheel Continues to Spin, Next Stop: Phoenix?

The Phoenix Coyotes have had a pretty decent month of December.  They’ve gone 7-4-3, which isn’t setting the world on fire by any standards, but has them very likely to finish off the calendar year in the Top 8 of the Western Conference, a leap seen as necessary for a team that didn’t nearly get the hype for it’s late season bumrush that Chicago did.  Wayne Gretzky’s done a fine job with that team.  It was pretty good month on the ice.

Off the ice?  Not so much.

There was David Shoalts’ story in The Globe and Mail stating, “Coyotes Face Potential Disaster”.  Not even within the text, it’s the headline!  In it, it stated that the Yotes were expected to lose $25 to $35 million this year alone, and face all kinds of legal gobbledegook.  Can you believe that word passed through my spellcheck, yet “Yotes” doesn’t?  Anywho, it caused many reporters and bloggers to either take the side of the Canadian media, or the… well… “Stop being mean to Phoenix” bandwagon.

Then, about a week ago, Scott Burnside of ESPN reported the following:

The NHL hasn’t taken over control of the Phoenix Coyotes, but it is taking an active role in trying to find new investors or ownership for the financially strapped franchise and is being kept apprised of any “significant” financial decisions the team makes, ESPN.com has learned from team and league sources.

The league also is trying to help broker changes to the existing lease with the city of Glendale in the hopes of making the situation more attractive to new investors or owners.

Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes is in dire financial straights, with his outside business interests — most notably Swift Transportation, a large trucking firm — having been hammered by high gasoline costs, followed by the dramatic downturn in the economy.

And although team officials say the club has never relied on Swift revenues to run the team, the Coyotes aren’t in much better shape and are expected to lose another $30 million or more this season, on top of the more than $60 million they are reported to have lost the past two years.

In short, Moyes wants out, a number of sources told ESPN.com. At the very least, he is in desperate need of an influx of capital to help in the continued operation of the team.

Apologies for the long quote, but it certainly is daunting enough to reprint here.  

Whatever the truth may be about the Coyotes, the playoff support of a decade ago showed that there are people who will support a winner in Phoenix.  With more months like they had in December, the Coyotes will be on their way to a playoff round and a chance to show the Canadian media and the hockey world that the area can support the club.

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