All due respect to my guy Biz but the NHL's hockey experiment in the greater-Phoenix area has been a quarter-century clusterfuck thus far. The main reason is because the team has played way out in Glendale for the last 18 years and it's a schlep going to/fro just to see a too-often mediocre team not make the playoffs. Whether it was NIMBYs or politics back in the late '90s, a rink in either downtown Phoenix or nearby Scottsdale never materialized and that essentially sealed the future fate for the Desert Dogs. Playing in Glendale became a hindrance to drawing and keeping fans/season ticket holders and ensured that the Coyotes would never have the same stability as the other franchises.
Another issue has been the lack of a stable owner since departing Manitoba. Right now, the team feels like it's one sale away from getting bought by a hedge fund then stripped for parts like a family-owned newspaper. This is, after all, a team that the NHL literally had to take care for four years. That's just bizarre for a major North American sports league (also sounds like a glaring conflict interest as well). So why not let a competent, proven franchise owner buy it and bring it to a city that is presenting like a dog in heat for an NHL team? To wit...
1) Houston is the 4th largest metropolitan city in the U.S.
2) Houston is ranked #7 in GDP among U.S. cities.
3) Houston has an NHL-ready arena in the Toyota Center arena.
4) Tilman Fertitta is an NHL-ready owner. After reaching an agreement to buy the NBA’s Houston Rockets and the Toyota Center arena for $2.2 billion in 2017, Fertitta declared on Twitter that he was open to bringing an NHL team to Houston as an additional tenant.
There's absolutely no reason to think that Houston wouldn't passionately support a NHL team. But I guess this just makes too much goddamn sense for the NHL.
I'm taking those denials with a margarita glass-rim full of salt. The Coyotes literally have no home beyond this season. And even if the owners decided to pay for and build a new rink (ya sonk) or that proposed Tempe arena gets approved, it would still take a couple of years to get done. What's the team gonna do in the interim? Play at a college barn? Beer league rink? An all-road schedule?
To be clear, this isn't an indictment in any way of the team's players, coaches, staff, front office, or other employees. Those folks are doing their jobs. And it has nothing to do with fan support. It's been proven elsewhere and many times that hockey works well in the desert/Sun Belt/West/South when it has the proper pieces put in place.
This is above their heads. The NHL and the many owners of this stray dog of a franchise are to blame for the fact that the team is in the same position it was when it moved south from Winnipeg 25 years ago---it does not have a suitable home rink.
The NHL just needs to call it a day on a NHL team in Arizona. And privately, they may just be doing that.
"The NHL desperately wants a team in (Houston)."
And yeah, we'd all love to see the Nordiques and Canadiens resume their blood feud. But that's just not gonna happen.
As for a team nickname, Aeros is the obvious one given the history (though I think Minnesota may still own the rights to the name/logo). But rather than 'honor the past' and recycle an old name (what up, Ottawa), I'd rather see a team come up with a completely new one that still has a strong regional tie-in. Likely something space-related. But I'm always down for a local animal species. The more obscure, the better. Who knows? Maybe I'll even inadvertently give them a new mascot.