Coyote Ugly: Jets Should Land in Winnipeg, but Not with Dogs Aboard

Steve McSween@dansallowsSenior Analyst IMay 10, 2010

27 Jan 1995:  Defenseman Teppo Numminen of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during a game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.  The Ducks won the game, 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello  /Allsport
Al Bello/Getty Images

Their season began with turmoil and uncertainty, yet the Phoenix Coyotes somehow found a way to put everything behind them and just focus on playing hockey, finishing with a franchise-best 50-25-7.

Now, the Coyotes' future in Arizona is once again being questioned, as Canadian billionaire David Thomson is waiting to see if he will be able to buy the team and bring them back to Winnipeg.

With the city of Glendale's politicians set to meet and discuss a proposed tax to help the club payoff a $14.7 million deficit, the chances of taxpayers' money being used to help a struggling sports franchise is about as likely as Oprah gracing the cover of the next Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Especially when the entire country is still amidst a recession.

And, while I as a Canadian would like nothing more than to see the Jets return to Winnipeg, you have to feel for the Desert Dogs who are coming off an unbelievable season.

Let's face it, the NHL should have never pulled out of Manitoba to begin with. Though I understand the reasons they felt the need to. With no arena and no corporate support, there was very little choice but to look elsewhere.

That being said, the NHL is about to pull the plug on a franchise that really wasn't given much of an opportunity to succeed. Let's face it, the team has been brutal for the most part, and in just about any other market would have been a tough sell.

If the team had of been even remotely successful, we wouldn't be talking about this matter right now. Yet, because of consistent poor decisions made by former owners and management, the Coyotes dug themselves a hole too deep to crawl out of.

They were destined to fail.

In a perfect NHL, there would be teams in Winnipeg, along with Quebec and Hamilton, and the Coyotes would remain in Phoenix.

While in previous eras the talent pool was not rich enough to support a 33-team league, we are now seeing a trend where younger players make it sooner rather than later, and there is an increase of popularity with kids playing the game in the US and worldwide.

Not to mention players calling it quits at a younger age as a result of the salary cap and the youth movement. A bigger league would extend a few careers.

In all likelihood, the Jets will land in Winnipeg next season, which is very exciting, but it comes on the heels of the Phoenix Coyotes finally turning a corner.

As much as I am not a fan of the NHL going into non-traditional hockey markets, the fact is, if teams win on the ice, they will succeed at the gate.

In fact, the Coyotes, as bad as they have been over the years, averaged 15,000 fans per game until this season dropped to 11,989 which was around the same amount that attended Jets games (11,316) the season prior to them moving to Arizona.

Yes, I can't wait to see the Winnipeg Jets square off against the Vancouver Canucks next season, but it will leave a bitter taste in my mouth simply because it shouldn't have come to this.

The Coyotes shouldn't leave Phoenix, just like the Jets shouldn't have left Winnipeg. Not when there are signs that things could work, otherwise it's like pulling the plug on a coma victim that just started eating.

Kudos Winnipeg, for getting back your beloved Jets. I guess fans in Phoenix now will just have to wait for the Panthers to become available.




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