The Phoenix Coyotes are hoping to expand the reaches of their fanbase in a non-traditional hockey market. One way they will attempt to do that is by changing the name of the franchise to the Arizona Coyotes starting next season.
The team made the announcement on its official site. Anthony LeBlanc, who is the co-owner, president and CEO of the Coyotes, said they hope the change will allow the franchise to create more of a regional feel moving forward:
We are very excited to announce that our franchise name will change to Arizona Coyotes for the start of the 2014-15 NHL season. 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.
Aside from the name change, fans shouldn't expect to see many other modifications. The release notes the team will continue to play its home games in Glendale at Jobing.com Arena, and the only jersey alteration will be the inclusion of a new shoulder patch.
The Coyotes note the new patch will make its debut during the preseason:
Otherwise, everything else is expected to remain the same as it has been during the Phoenix days.
The franchise actually began as the Winnipeg Jets all the way back in 1972. It then moved to Phoenix in 1996 and into the suburb of Glendale seven years later. Of course, Winnipeg ended up getting another team when the Atlanta Thrashers were relocated north three seasons ago.
On the surface, simply changing the name doesn't seem like a big deal. It's probably just one step in a much larger effort to make the team more marketable. The Coyotes rank last in the NHL in average home attendance at 75.9 percent capacity, according to ESPN.
While the front office puts the name change in motion, the players have bigger things to worry about. With the Winter Olympic break on the horizon, Phoenix is currently three points out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Making the playoffs on a consistent basis and building a championship contender is ultimately the best way to attract more fans for the long term.
Only time will tell if changing the team name to the Arizona Coyotes will make any type of a significant impact.