When Gary Bettman wrote a letter to Arizona lawmakers compelling them to pass Bill 1149—which would allow more than $200MM to be allocated from the state budget to build a new arena for the Coyotes closer to downtown Phoenix—he used some very strong wording. “The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale,” the Commissioner wrote in a thinly veiled threat that would hopefully force the Senate’s hand. He has received much backlash from the letter, including from a former mayor of Glendale herself, Elaine Scruggs (published by AZCentral).
Before the Coyotes moved out of downtown Phoenix they ranked 29th in attendance out of the league of 30 teams. Their first year in the Glendale Arena they ranked 19th in attendance. Attendance stayed in that tier until the floundering team started losing their disappointed fans’ support.
The truth is that the Coyotes have a world-class, taxpayer-funded arena that is designed for hockey and is only 12 years old. They have a City Council and City Manager ready to work with them to achieve an equitable long-term lease.
Scruggs makes a clear point in her letter, saying that it is not the people or city of Glendale’s fault, but the ownership groups the NHL has installed over their 19-year run. As the team struggles in last place in the Pacific Division, it is looking more and more like it won’t matter for the city that once loved their Coyotes. If they don’t get funding for another new arena, they might end up moving further than anyone—fans or the NHL—have ever wanted.
- According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, Nino Niederreiter will not receive any supplementary discipline for his knee-on-knee collision with Tyler Johnson last night. The Tampa Bay forward had to leave the game and is still being evaluated, but looks like he’ll miss at least some time with an injury. The Lightning also lost Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette to injury last night, leaving them with several openings going forward.
- The New York Rangers have sent Brandon Halverson back to the ECHL after his emergency backup last night. The Swamp Rabbits goaltender filled in for Henrik Lundqvist on the bench last night, but wasn’t needed for any time on the ice. Lundqvist appears healthy enough to play in one of the Rangers’ back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday and Monday.
- Ottawa has called up Phil Varone today prior to their game against the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow. It’s the final game of their current three game road trip, and as Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen reports, the team will likely be without Kyle Turris and Mark Stone. They’ll try to get a win against the NHL’s worst team before licking their wounds in the comfort of their own homes for the next three games.