October 11, 2009—that's the day news broke that Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume and others were interested in possibly reviving the NHL in Quebec, and ever since that day I, along with very few other B/R writers, have followed their attempts to do just that through monthly articles.
Yesterday's news out of Glendale, Ariz., changed most of that when Gary Bettman and his cronies, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and Owner Matthew Hulsizer went against the will of the people to keep the NHL franchise in a place it never belonged in the first place—the desert.
Hulsizer strong-armed his way into the NHL to get a piece of the pie.
In the spirit of Christmas, he's giving the few Coyotes fans there are, a HUGE gift—by taking on declining ratings, soaring debt and paltry attendance.
He just bought himself into the most inept franchise in the NHL—a literal no-win situation with a weaker fan base that has never produced a profit.
How dumb can he be?
It's nothing personal against Hulsizer, but we were denied a chance to see something really special, a nostalgic NHL team returning to the land they once called home.
It would have been a feel good story, one that the league—and ultimately Hulsizer —denied us.
Its all about location, location, location.
Phoenix is not in Manitoba or Quebec.
It is not in Canada.
It's not even in a region that sees snow, much less ice.
Why would the NHL keep a franchise there instead of market that could actually generate profit, like Quebec?
The Coyotes are last in the NHL in attendance and as recently as last Thursday, they played a home game in front of a reported 7,749 fans versus the Minnesota Wild
In actuality, the neutral ESPN report stated that barely half that number was actually in attendance.
This team has averaged less than 10,000 in over half of their home games this season.
The arena is in an inaccessible part of town, with little fan fare.
Tickets are said to be expensive, even though they aren't any worse than traditional venues in the league where the fans actually care.
Phoenix doesn't play another home game until December 28th versus the Anaheim Ducks and there are those fans who expect an uptick in attendance now that the cloud of uncertainty they were hiding behind has been lifted.
Granted, they probably will see an increase from the usual 10,000 to 12,000, but for how long?
While all might seem lost on the surface, there are actually three things Canadians, jilted Winnipeggers, and traditional American hockey fans like myself can hope for...
1. According to the Toronto Globe and Mail (among other sources), an Arizona Watchdog group, the Goldwater Institute, may sue Glendale on the basis that it offered a subsidy to Hulsizer in the form of the $197 million payout.
While it's certainly a long shot effort, due to its legality, it must be taken seriously.
The issue revolves around public money being given to a private individual and the perceived lack of ethics behind such a deal.
2. The bogus agreement that the Glendale City Council "agreed" to last night, 5-2, was expected to include an opt out clause if the city failed to make any of their payment to which the wide-eyed schmuck, Hulsizer, could theorhetically sell to an outside group.
I guess we better hope they can't make a payment during the next 23 years.
Given the economy this will surely cause cries of "foul!" from apathetic citzens who could care less about hockey and whom think the money should go to more worthwhile things like schools, infrastructure, and healthcare etc.
3. Quite simply, the Coyotes lose and lose BAD.
The more losses, the less justitification for having the team.
Given Bettman's hell-bent stance on keeping these mutts in the desert, the Coyotes simply must do more than just lose, but take their losing to the next level.
Thank you, Gary Bettman, for all your idiotic decisions, you just gave new meaning to the phrase "put the game on ice."
Information from The Toronto Globe and Mail directly contributed to the content of this article.