For a team that made it to the Western Conference Championship, only to lose to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, you’d think that the future would be bright, right? For a moment, let’s sidebar that idea and understand that as of today, the preseason and now first two weeks of the NHL regular season have been trashed due to the lockout. So essentially, the future is non-existent for all 30 teams that make up the NHL, because of disputes between the owners/league and the player union. For one of the thirty teams, the league itself actually owns a team currently locked out: the Phoenix Coyotes, otherwise know as the dumpster fire of the NHL.
Fourteen teams did not make the NHL playoffs last year and seven of those had losing records. All of them, however, have strong ownership groups with funding and fan support. The same cannot be said for the Coyotes, who have only been in existence since 1996, when the franchise was moved from Winnipeg, but have been struggling to garner fan support and therefore funding. What did people expect when a frozen sport was brought to the desert? The game, itself, simply doesn’t resonate with a warm area, but also one that is saturated annually with major professional and collegiate sports, including another winter sport in the Phoenix Suns that trumps interest in hockey.
Common sense seems to lead us to the fact that a hockey team in Phoenix would not be a success, and an idealist ownership group learned this fact the hard way by declaring for bankruptcy in 2009, at which point the NHL trashed the ownership group and took over. The success on the ice notwithstanding, it is safe to assume that the future of the franchise being in Phoenix is limited. If the players can hold off the inevitable for another season, and turn it into a winner – perhaps things will change. Unfortunately, unless the lockout is settled soon, we may not get a chance to see until 2013-14.