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Friday, May 14, 2010
The Coyotes were founded in 1972 as the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association (WHA), joining the NHL in 1979 and moving to Phoenix in 1996. Their home ice was at the US Airways Center (then known as America West Arena) for seven years until 2003, when Jobing.com Arena opened.
On May 5, 2009, the Coyotes filed for bankruptcy. The team is now owned by the NHL.
The team began play as the Winnipeg Jets, one of the founding franchises in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The Jets were the most successful team in the short-lived WHA, winning the Avco World Trophy, the league's championship trophy, three times and making the finals five out of the WHA's seven seasons. It then became one of the four teams admitted to the NHL as part of a merger that saw the financially-struggling WHA fold in 1979.
However, the club was never able to translate that success into the NHL after the merger. As part of the terms under which the former WHA teams joined the NHL, the established NHL teams were allowed to reclaim most of the players that jumped to the upstart league. The Jets lost most of their best players in the ensuing reclamation draft. As a result, they finished last in the NHL during their first two seasons, including a nine-win season in 1980–81 that is still the worst in franchise history. They recovered fairly quickly, however, making the playoffs 11 times in the next 15 seasons. However, they only won two playoff series largely due to being in the same division as the powerful Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. Because of the way the playoffs were structured for much of their Winnipeg run, they were all but assured of having to defeat either the Oilers or the Flames (or both) to reach the Conference Finals. In 1984–85, for instance, they finished with the fifth-best record in the league, only to be bounced by the Oilers in the division finals.
The Jets ran into financial trouble when player salaries began spiraling up in the 1990s; this hit the Canadian teams particularly hard. Winnipeg was the second-smallest market in the NHL for most of the Jets' existence, and after the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995 to become the Colorado Avalanche, it became the smallest market. In addition, the Jets' home arena, Winnipeg Arena, was one of the smallest in the league. Despite strong fan support, several attempts to keep the team in Winnipeg ultimately fell through. In December 1995, Jerry Colangelo, owner of the NBA's Phoenix Suns and MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks, along with Phoenix businessmen Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke and a local investor group bought the team with plans to move it to Phoenix for the 1996–97 season. A name-the-team contest yielded the nickname "Coyotes."
The early Phoenix years (1996–2005)
Phoenix's first logo, a kachina-style coyote, used from 1996 to 2003.
In the summer that the move took place, the franchise saw the exit of Jets star Alexei Zhamnov, while the team added established superstar Jeremy Roenick from the Chicago Blackhawks. Roenick teamed up with power wingers Keith Tkachuk and Rick Tocchet to form a dynamic 1–2–3 offensive punch that led the Coyotes through their first years in Arizona. Also impressive were young players like Shane Doan (as of the current season the last remaining Coyote dating to the team's days in Winnipeg), Oleg Tverdovsky, and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, whom the fans nicknamed the "Bulin Wall."
Another key addition to the squad was veteran forward Mike Gartner, who had come over from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite his experience and scoring his 700th career goal on December 15, 1997, Gartner battled injuries in the latter half of the 1997-98 season. The Coyotes did not renew his contract, and he retired at the end of the season.
After arriving in Phoenix, the team posted six consecutive .500 or better seasons, making the playoffs in every year but one. The one time they didn't make the playoffs, in 2000-01, they became the first team to earn 90 points and miss the playoffs. They were tremendously popular, in part because of the large number of Northern transplants in the Phoenix area.
However, the Coyotes' home during their first eight years in Phoenix, America West Arena, was completely inadequate for hockey. Although considered a state-of-the-art arena when it was built for the Phoenix Suns basketball team, the floor was just barely large enough to fit a standard NHL rink. The building was hastily re-engineered to accommodate the 200 foot rink, and the configuration left a portion of one end of the upper deck hanging over the boards and ice, obscuring almost a third of the rink and one goal from several sections. As a result, listed capacity had to be cut down to just over 16,000 — the second-smallest in the league at the time — after the first season.
Burke bought out Gluckstern in 1998, but was unable to attract more investors to alleviate the team's financial woes (see below). Finally, in 2001, Burke sold the team to Phoenix-area developer Steve Ellman, with Wayne Gretzky as a part-owner and head of hockey operations.
To this day[when?], however, the Coyotes have never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. The franchise has not won a playoff series since 1987, when it was still in Winnipeg. The closest that they came to advancing past the first round was during the 1999 playoffs, when they lost a heartbreaking Game 7 to the St. Louis Blues. In 2002, the Coyotes posted 95 points, one point behind their best total as an NHL team, but made a rather meek first-round exit from the playoffs, being eliminated in five games by the San Jose Sharks.
From then until the 2007–08 season, the Coyotes were barely competitive and managed to break the 80–point barrier only once during that time. Attendance levels dropped considerably, worrying many league executives. In addition, an unfavorable lease with the city of Phoenix (owner of America West Arena) had the team running massive losses (as much as $40 million a year at one point); the Coyotes have never really recovered from the resulting financial problems.
In 2003, the team opened Glendale Arena, now known as Jobing.com Arena, and moved there in 2003. Ellman had committed to building the new arena after numerous proposals to improve the hockey sight lines in America West Arena came to nothing. Simultaneously, the team changed its logo and uniforms, moving from the previous multi-colored kit to a more streamlined look.
In 2005, Ellman sold the Coyotes, the National Lacrosse League's Arizona Sting and the lease to Jobing.com Arena to trucking magnate Jerry Moyes, who is also a part-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Gretzky era (2005–09)
The Coyotes' shoulder patch.
On August 6, 2005, Brett Hull, son of former Jet Bobby Hull, was signed and promptly assigned the elder Hull's #9 retired. Two days later, Gretzky named himself head coach, replacing Rick Bowness, despite the fact that he had never coached at any level of hockey. The Coyotes 'Ring of Honor' was unveiled on October 8, inducting Gretzky (who had never played for the organization) and Bobby Hull. Only a week later, Brett Hull announced his retirement. On January 21, 2006, Jets great Thomas Steen was the third inductee to the 'Ring of Honor.'
Another moment in a series of bad luck: The Coyotes were planning to host the 2006 NHL All-Star Game, but the event was canceled because of the 2006 Winter Olympics.
The team returned to Winnipeg on September 17, 2006, to play a pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers, but were shut-out 5–0 before a sellout crowd of 15,015.
On April 11, 2007, CEO Jeff Shumway announced that general manager Michael Barnett (Gretzky's agent for over 20 years), senior executive vice president of hockey operations Cliff Fletcher, and San Antonio Rampage's general manager and Coyotes' assistant general manager Laurence Gilman "have been relieved of their duties." The Coyotes finished the 2006–2007 season 31–46–5, its worst record since relocating to Phoenix.
On May 29, 2007, Jeff Shumway announced that Don Maloney had agreed to a multi-year contract to become General Manager of the Coyotes. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed. However, as has been the case with all general managers since 2001, Maloney serves in an advisory role to Gretzky.
The 2007–08 season was something of a resurgence for the Coyotes. After their disastrous 2006–07 campaign, the Coyotes looked to rebuild the team by relying on their drafted talent such as Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal to make the team successful as opposed to using free agency. The Coyotes also acquired Radim Vrbata from the Chicago Blackhawks for Kevyn Adams in an effort to provide the team with more offense. The team signed both Alex Auld and David Aebischer to compete for the starting goaltender position with Mikael Tellqvist acting as the backup goaltender. Neither Auld or Aebischer were able to hold on to the starting position, leaving the Coyotes to turn to the waiver wire for assistance. On November 17, 2007, the Coyotes were able to claim Ilya Bryzgalov off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks. Bryzgalov responded by not only starting in goal the day he was acquired, but posting a shutout in his Coyotes debut against the Los Angeles Kings. Bryzgalov was soon given a 3–year contract extension because of his high level of play. Despite predictions of another disastrous season, the Coyotes played competitive hockey for most of the season. However, they finished eight points short of the last playoff spot, with 83 points.
Main article: Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy
In December 2008, the media became aware that the Phoenix Coyotes were losing money at a high rate and were being funded by the NHL directly. The media reports were minimized by the NHL president Gary Bettman and vice-president Bill Daly, but secretly the NHL had taken over operations of the Coyotes. In May 2009, the owner of the team Jerry Moyes put the team into bankruptcy hours before receiving Bettman who was to present a potential offer to purchase. Moyes intended to sell the team to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie who intended to purchase the team out of bankruptcy and move it to Hamilton, Ontario.
From May until September 2009, hearings were held in Phoenix bankruptcy court to determine the fate of the Coyotes and the holding company. Two potential bidders for the team surfaced, Jerry Reinsdorf and Ice Edge Holdings, Inc. but they did not submit a bid for the team at the bankruptcy hearing. Instead, the NHL put in the only rival bid to Balsillie for the team, while they fought Moyes's plan to sell the team and move it to Hamilton against the NHL rules. Ultimately, the Phoenix court ruled that the team could not be sold to Balsillie, as the judge held that bankruptcy could not be used to subvert the league's rules. The NHL's initial bid was also declared insufficient but the judge left the window open to an improved bid. Moyes and the NHL settled, with the NHL buying the team and assuming all debts. The NHL negotiated a temporary lease with Jobing.com Arena owner, the City of Glendale, Arizona.
The NHL then proceeded to work with the two potential bidders of Jerry Reinsdorf and Ice Edge to work out a deal with Glendale. Ice Edge signed a letter of intent to buy the team from the NHL, while Reinsdorf has won the approval of the City of Glendale. The NHL has yet to deal with the purchase. On Friday, May 7, 2010, ESPN.com reported that Reinsdorf bid had fallen apart, and the City of Glendale was working with Ice Edge group to buy the team in a last ditch effort to keep them in Phoenix. The National Post criticized both bids, as both were conditional on municipal taxpayers to cover any losses that the Coyotes might incur, and suggested that keeping the team in Winnipeg was never economically viable.
If the Ice Edge bid fails, then the group that owns the MTS Centre, True North Sports and Entertainment, headed by Mark Chipman could potentially buy the team and move them back to Winnipeg. On Tuesday May 11, 2010, an article on Yahoo! reported that talks between Ice Edge and City of Glendale have fallen apart, and now there is strong possibility that the group that headed up by billionaire David Thomson and Mark Chipman is the leading contender to buy the team and move them back to Winnipeg. If the team does move back to Winnipeg, the MTS Centre will have to increase its arena capacity from 15,200 fans to meet NHL standards. In a press release on May 11, 2010, it was announced that the Glendale City Council unanimously voted in favor of providing up to $25 million in order to keep the Coyotes through the 2010-2011 NHL season. Had there been no potential buyer or favorable vote from the Glendale City Council, it had been reported, though not confirmed, that the NHL had drafted a schedule including the Winnipeg Jets franchise playing in the MTS Centre, as a part of the Northwest Division. Legendary Head Coach and CBC Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry says if team relocates to Winnipeg he wants to be a part of the ownership group. The Phoenix New Times Newspaper on Friday May 14, 2010 is reporting the Conservative Goldwater Institute is threating a lawsuit against the Coyotes deal made with the city of Glendale to fund the teams losses for 2010-11 season because of Arizona law prohibits taxpayers bailing out private business including the Coyotes.
Return to the Playoffs
On March 27, 2010, the Coyotes clinched a playoff spot, their first playoff spot since the 2001-2002 season, and in the process, reached the 100 point mark for the first time in franchise history. Their first round opponent in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings won the series 4-3. An injury to Captain Shane Doan kept him from playing the main amount of games in the series.
Upon their arrival in Phoenix in 1996, the team adopted a look with a strong Southwestern flavor. The primary logo was a stylized hockey stick-wielding coyote in a kachina-inspired style. The jerseys featured pointed green shoulders with brick red trim over a white (home) or black (road) body, and non-traditional striping patterns. These uniforms remained in place until 2003. A third jersey, primarily green with a nighttime desert landscape wrapped around the bottom and the cuffs of the sleeves, was introduced in 1998, and retired in 2003.
As the NHL switched home and road jerseys beginning in the 2003-04 season, and coinciding with the team's move from America West to the newly-completed Glendale (now Jobing.com) Arena, the Coyotes redesigned their look completely, adopting the current howling coyote head logo, while dropping several colors from the team's palette. Brick red and white became the primary colors, with sand and black remaining as logo trim colors. The uniform's simplified two-color scheme with three stripes on each sleeve and the tail bears some resemblance to later versions of the Montreal Maroons sweaters. The team also changed its shoulder patch, taking the form of the outline of the state of Arizona, with an homage to the state flag and the abbreviation "PHX". This logo was worn on the right shoulder only, with the left shoulder now bare.
The Coyotes updated their jerseys for the 2007–08 season, along with all NHL teams, as part of the switchover to Rbk Edge jerseys. The changes made were adding an NHL crest just below the neck opening, removing the stripes that were previously just above the lower hem, and moving the "PHX" patch from the right to the left shoulder. The white jersey also gained red shoulder coloring and laces at the collar. The three-stripe pattern is applied to the side of the pants.
The Coyotes also added a third jersey for the 2008-2009 season. It is primarily black and features a new alternate coyote logo on the front, with the primary logo (coyote head) patch on the right shoulder, and the "Official Seal" on the left. Since white does not appear on the alternate, solid red pant shells are worn with this jersey.
Howler is the coyote-suited mascot of the Phoenix Coyotes. He was introduced on October 15, 2005. Howler has his own website dedicated to his Kids Club -.
This is a partial list of the last six seasons completed by the Coyotes. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Phoenix Coyotes seasons
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Records as of April 13, 2009.
Season GP W L OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
2005–06 82 38 39 5 81 246 271 1493 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2006–07 82 31 46 5 67 216 284 1417 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2007–08 82 38 37 7 83 214 231 1175 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
2008–09 82 36 39 7 79 208 252 1056 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
2009–10 82 50 25 7 107 225 202 925 2nd, Pacific Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 3-4 (Red Wings)
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Updated April 14, 2010.
# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace
33 Adrian Aucoin D R 36 2009 Ottawa, Ontario
12 Paul Bissonnette RW L 25 2009 Welland, Ontario
89 Mikkel Boedker RW L 20 2008 Brøndby, Denmark
30 Ilya Bryzgalov G L 29 2007 Togliatti, Soviet Union
19 Shane Doan (C) RW R 33 1995 Halkirk, Alberta
38 Vernon Fiddler C L 30 2009 Edmonton, Alberta
11 Martin Hanzal C L 23 2005 Písek, Czechoslovakia
55 Ed Jovanovski (A) D L 33 2006 Windsor, Ontario
29 Lauri Korpikoski LW L 23 2009 Turku, Finland
1 Jason LaBarbera G L 30 2009 Burnaby, British Columbia
20 Robert Lang C R 39 2009 Teplice, Czechoslovakia
18 Sami Lepisto D L 25 2009 Espoo, Finland
15 Matthew Lombardi C L 28 2009 Montreal, Quebec
39 Brett MacLean LW R 21 2007 London, Ontario
4 Zbynek Michalek (A) D R 27 2005 Jindřichův Hradec, Czechoslovakia
35 Al Montoya G L 25 2008 Chicago, Illinois
53 Derek Morris D R 31 2010 Edmonton, Alberta
71 Petteri Nokelainen C R 24 2010 Imatra, Finland
26 Joel Perrault C R 27 2006 Montreal, Quebec
21 Alexandre Picard LW L 24 2010 Les Saules, Quebec
16 Petr Prucha RW R 27 2009 Chrudim, Czechoslovakia
14 Taylor Pyatt LW L 28 2009 Thunder Bay, Ontario
44 Kurt Sauer D L 29 2008 St. Cloud, Minnesota
6 David Schlemko D L 23 2007 Edmonton, Alberta
23 Mathieu Schneider D L 40 2010 New York, New York
22 Lee Stempniak RW R 27 2010 West Seneca, New York
41 Viktor Tikhonov RW R 22 2008 Riga, Soviet Union
42 Josh Tordjman G L 25 2006 Montreal, Quebec
91 Kyle Turris C R 20 2007 New Westminster, British Columbia
8 Scottie Upshall RW L 26 2009 Fort McMurray, Alberta
2 Jim Vandermeer D L 30 2009 Caroline, Alberta
17 Radim Vrbata RW R 28 2009 Mladá Boleslav, Czechoslovakia
34 Daniel Winnik C R 25 2004 Toronto, Ontario
86 Wojtek Wolski LW L 24 2010 Zabrze, Poland
3 Keith Yandle D L 23 2005 Boston, Massachusetts
Note: This list does not include captains from the Winnipeg Jets (NHL & WHA).
Keith Tkachuk, 1996–2001
Teppo Numminen, 2001–03
Shane Doan, 2003– present
Hall of Famers
Mike Gartner, RW, 1996–98, inducted 2001
Brett Hull, RW, 2005-06, inducted 2009
Dale Hawerchuk, C, 1981–90 inducted 2001
9 Bobby Hull, LW, 1972–80, number retired by Winnipeg on February 19, 1989; Hull's #9 was unretired briefly upon his request at the beginning of the 2005–06 season for his son, Brett, before he retired five games into the season.
10 Dale Hawerchuk, C, 1981–90, number retired by Phoenix on April 5, 2007.
25 Thomas Steen, RW, 1981–95, number retired by Winnipeg on May 6, 1995.
27 Teppo Numminen, D, 1988–2003, number retired by Phoenix on January 30, 2010.
99 Wayne Gretzky, head coach 2005–09, number retired league-wide February 6, 2000.
The Coyotes continue to honor the retired numbers of the Winnipeg Jets franchise, and are the only relocated WHA team to do so; the banners for Hull and Steen at Jobing.com Arena are in the Jets' blue, white and red. Furthermore, Hull, Hawerchuk, and Steen, all played for Winnipeg long before the move to Arizona. Numminen is the only player with a number retired by the Jets/Coyotes to play for both the Jets and the Coyotes (and the only one to have played for the latter).
First-round draft picks
Note: This list does not include selections of the Winnipeg Jets.
1996: Dan Focht (11th overall) & Daniel Brière (24th overall)*
1998: Patrick DesRochers (14th overall)
1999: Scott Kelman (15th overall) & Kirill Safronov (19th overall)
2000: Krystofer Kolanos (19th overall)
2001: Fredrik Sjostrom (11th overall)
2002: Jakub Koreis (19th overall) & Ben Eager (23rd overall)
2004: Blake Wheeler (5th overall)
2005: Martin Hanzal (17th overall)
2006: Peter Mueller (8th overall) & Chris Summers (29th overall)
2007: Kyle Turris (3rd overall) & Nick Ross (30th overall)
2008: Mikkel Bodker (8th overall) & Viktor Tikhonov (28th Overall)
2009: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6th overall)
*The 1996 NHL Draft took place on June 22, and the Jets did not become the Coyotes until July 1, making Focht and Briere the two final first round selections of the Winnipeg Jets.
Franchise scoring leaders
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise (Winnipeg and Phoenix) history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season, last updated 2008/09.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Coyotes player
Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Dale Hawerchuk C 713 379 550 929 1.30
Thomas Steen RW 950 264 553 817 .86
Keith Tkachuk LW 640 323 300 623 .97
Shane Doan* RW 967 258 365 623 .64
Teppo Numminen D 1098 108 426 534 .49
Paul MacLean RW 527 248 270 518 .98
Doug Smail LW 691 189 208 397 .58
Laurie Boschman LW 526 152 227 379 .72
Jeremy Roenick C 384 141 210 351 .91
Morris Lukowich LW 431 168 177 345 .80
NHL awards and trophies
Jack Adams Award
Bob Francis: 2001–02
Most goals in a season: Teemu Selanne, 76 (1992–93).
Most assists in a season: Phil Housley, 79 (1992–93).
Most points in a season: Teemu Selanne, 132 (1992–93).
Most penalty minutes in a season: Tie Domi, 347 (1993–94).
Most points in a season, defenseman: Phil Housley, 97 (1992–93).
Most points in a season, rookie: Teemu Selanne, 132 (1992–93).
Most wins in a season: Ilya Bryzgalov, 42 (2009–10).