The Coyotes against everyone

Arizona Coyotes are surrounded by predators. Not the ones from Nashville, who play in mustard yellow jerseys. Rather, investors from everywhere, who dream of attracting a National Hockey League club to their cities.

Tracked, hunted, exhausted, the Coyotes could have given up. But no. Here they are, on the contrary, enraged, ready to do anything to defend their territory. To use the phrase used by the organization on social networks this week, it is now “Arizona against everyone”.

This was already somewhat the case in recent years, you might say. It’s true. Except that in recent days, the confrontation has reached unprecedented levels. This is because the entrepreneurs behind Salt Lake City’s candidacy are becoming more and more insistent. The Smith Entertainment Group (SEG) says it is ready to welcome an NHL franchise next fall.


Ryan Smith, owner of the Utah Jazz and Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), who covets an NHL franchise

“SEG envisions a near future where the NHL thrives in Utah. We are focusing 100% of our efforts on making this happen as soon as possible,” said the group’s chairman of the board, Ryan Smith, recently. The NHL is just as enthusiastic. “We are impressed by Ryan and Ashley Smith’s commitment to their community, as well as their passion and vision for Utah, not only as a hockey market, but also as a premier destination for the sport and entertainment. Utah is a promising market, and we look forward to continuing our discussions. »

I don’t remember hearing such gentle words from Commissioner Gary Bettman towards Pierre Karl Péladeau or the Quebec market.

The Salt Lake City group could obviously obtain a concession as part of an expansion. He has also filed an official request with the NHL to begin a process in this direction. But this week, one of the best-connected journalists in the NHL’s offices, Frank Seravalli, indicated that Salt Lake City could also get the Coyotes back in the short term. This is one of three scenarios being considered for the future of the Coyotes. A decision could be announced as early as this weekend, he adds, before quoting Players’ Association President Marty Walsh: “If there is no plan in Arizona, I would totally encourage a move to another destination. »

The article has awakened the beast.

“If it doesn’t come from us, it’s #fakenews,” the team responded on X. “We have every intention of staying in Arizona and bringing the Stanley Cup to this great state. We are filled with love for those who support us. We will not abandon you. »

Then the Coyotes released an image from the popular series Succession, with the following words: “Sorry, we can’t hear you. Can you speak louder ? » A powerful passive-aggressive message, which quickly went viral, which says a lot about the spirit of survival which must reign in the organization’s offices.


Actor Jeremy Strong plays the role of Kendall Roy in the TV series Succession.

For the uninitiated, in Succession, a man, his daughter, his sons, his son-in-law, his nephew, his ex, his allies and his enemies fight for control of the company he founded. One low blow doesn’t wait for the other. It is a rolling fire of scams, deceptions, lies, negotiations and betrayals. In addition, the character chosen by the Coyotes is a punching bag human, an ambitious young businessman who is belittled, crushed and humiliated by his father, but who, after each blow, rolls up his sleeves and resumes the fight.

Any resemblance to reality is surely not coincidental…

This pressure exerted by the NHL and the candidacy of Salt Lake City will have had a positive effect: shaking up the Coyotes’ fleas.

Because for months, not much was happening. The team played games in an arena with fewer than 5,000 seats, with no new home on the horizon, even in the long term. After the developments of the last few days, well, well, we finally had the beginning of something that could resemble a plan. The Coyotes are now eyeing government land in the Phoenix Valley to build a new arena. You will understand that we are still far from the first shovelful of earth. Considering all the failed attempts in the past, a good dose of skepticism remains in order.

In contrast, Salt Lake City’s candidacy is exciting. It is one of the most dynamic cities in the United States. Since the 2002 Olympics, its population has increased by 30%. “With the fastest growing economy, youngest population in the country and long history as a premier winter sports destination, Utah is very excited to welcome an NHL franchise” , local politicians argued in a joint statement. The Jazz (NBA) and Real Madrid (MLS) almost always play in front of packed houses and the city is well positioned to get the 2034 Olympics.

I wrote last spring that the NHL was to host the tournament in Arizona. I’m not going to budge, it would be the best business decision. It would be downright sad for the local fans. I can understand them; I was in the front row for the departure of the Expos. But here we have reached the point where the determination to defend the indefensible has lasted long enough.


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