Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata is set to play his 1,000th game Thursday against the Senators.
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The Arizona Coyotes Foundation held their annual golf tournament for charity at the Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Players Shane Doan, Max Domi and Brendan Perlini comment.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes on Sunday in Glendale.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Max Domi and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to the 2-1 loss on Sunday in Glendale. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 4-2 win over the Hurricanes.
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Coach Dave Tippett, captain Shane Doan, center Jordan Martinook and goalie Louis Domingue react to the win.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 6-3 loss to the Sabres on Thursday.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Alex Goligoski, winger Tobias Rieder and winger Teemu Pulkkinen react to the loss on Thursday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes General Manager John Chayka, winger Radim Vrbata and captain Shane Doan discuss the two players staying with Arizona.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 4-1 loss to the Bruins.
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Coach Dave Tippett, captain Shane Doan, defenseman Jakob Chychrun and goalie Mike Smith react to center Alexander Burmistrov’s injury in a 4-1 loss to the Bruins. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and azcentral’s Craig Harris discuss the latest on the Coyotes’ search for an arena and the Diamondbacks’ feud with the county over Chase Field.
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The Coyotes react to the trade that sent center Martin Hanzal and winger Ryan White to the Wild.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-2 win over the Sabres, Feb. 26, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, winger Radim Vrbata, captain Shane Doan and winger Jamie McGinn react to the 3-2 win, Feb. 26, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-2 loss to the Stars, Feb. 24, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, goalie Louis Domingue, defenseman Alex Goligoski and winger Radim Vrbata react to the loss against the Stars, Feb. 24, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 6-3 loss to the Blackhawks, Feb. 23, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Jakob Chychrun, winger Ryan White and winger Radim Vrbata react to the 6-3 loss to the Blackhawks, Feb. 23, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-2 win over the Ducks on Monday.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Marek Langhamer, winger Radim Vrbata and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to Monday’s win in Glendale. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 4-1 loss to the Sharks.
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Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, captain Shane Doan, center Martin Hanzal and goalie Mike Smith react to a loss against the Sharks, Feb. 18, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-3 win over the Kings. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes’ coach Dave Tippett, winger Jordan Martinook, winger Brendan Perlini and goalie Mike Smith react to a win against the Kings, Feb. 16, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-2 loss to the Oilers.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Louis Domingue, center Martin Hanzal, defenseman Alex Goligoski and defenseman Luke Schenn react to the 5-2 loss. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-0 win over the Flames.
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Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, center Christian Dvorak and winger Ryan White talk about the Coyotes’ 5-0 win over the Flames on Monday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 4-3 overtime win over the Penguins.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Connor Murphy, center Martin Hanzal and goalie Mike Smith react to the 4-3 win.
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Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is only two points shy of 1,000 for his careee entering Saturday’s game against the Coyotes. Video: Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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The Washington Capitals hosted United Arab Emirates native and hockey phenom Fatima Al Ali.
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Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald skates for the first time with Arizona Coyotes’ Shane Doan. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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For the first time, the Coyotes brought their dads on a road trip.
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Coyotes goalie Mike Smith reflects on his experience at the NHL All-Star Game on Monday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes captain Shane Doan discusses the possibility of seeking a trade this season. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata reaches 1,000-game milestone
Arizona Coyotes Foundation Golf Tournament 2017
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Hurricanes
Hurricanes rally past Coyotes with late third-period goal
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Hurricanes
Coyotes react to road win over Hurricanes
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Sabres
Coyotes react to their 6-3 loss to the Sabres
Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan remain with Coyotes after NHL trade deadline
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Bruins
Coyotes react to Burmistrov hit in loss to Bruins
Shot Clock: Could they leave? Latest on Coyotes’ arena situation
Coyotes react to Martin Hanzal trade
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Sabres
Coyotes rally past Sabres in third period
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Stars
Stars rally past Coyotes for 5-2 win
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blackhawks
Coyotes react to 6-3 loss to Blackhawks
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Ducks
Coyotes hold off Ducks for 3-2 win
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Sharks
Coyotes react to 4-1 loss to Sharks
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Kings
Arizona Coyotes hold off Los Angeles Kings in third for 5-3 win
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Oilers
Oilers overwhelm Coyotes 5-2
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Flames
Coyotes break out in win over Flames
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Penguins
Coyotes react to overtime win over the Penguins
Sidney Crosby closing in on 1,000 career points
Hockey phenom from UAE takes the ice with the Capitals
Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald skates for the first time with Shane Doan
Coyotes bring their dads on the road to San Jose
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith on memorable All-Star Game experience
Coyotes captain Shane Doan not ruling out trade possibility
The Valley is the strangest NHL market in North America. For years, it’s been the only place where hockey fans cheered Gary Bettman and booed Wayne Gretzky.
We’ve had good reasons for both.
But the dynamics have changed almost overnight. Bettman’s three-page letter to the Arizona legislature is backfiring badly on the NHL’s snappish commissioner. His bold-faced remarks that the Coyotes “cannot and will not remain in Glendale” come off as heavy-handed threats that absolve a hockey team from its non-competitive past while chiding a local government for withdrawing hefty subsidies it can no longer afford.
They reflect the desperation that suddenly clouds the Coyotes’ future in the desert, along with Bettman’s legacy of Sun Belt expansion. The carnage is only beginning.
The greater Phoenix area has experienced significant growing pains in our 19-year history as a big-league sports market. Despite only one major championship in nearly two decades, local teams have made considerable progress at unifying a transient community, where our collective pride in Arizona has been stunted by childhood memories and mixed allegiances.
Slowly, we’re beginning to understand the communal benefits that accompany the concept of one city, one team. There’s an intuitive understanding that living in Arizona while cheering for franchises in another state is no way to live and no way to grow together.
This evolution takes time. Those who relocated to Arizona have no obligation to stop supporting teams that brightened their adolescence, teams that made a difference in their own quality of life. But the narrative changes when those same people have children who are born in State 48, when bequeathing fandom to teams from a different state seems ridiculous and no way to foster local pride.
But stadium-related issues change the game for everyone. They are a huge civic turnoff, especially when wealthy owners want taxpayers to pay for new buildings, increasing their profit margins and revenue streams at our expense. The Coyotes are proof, a team that is returning with hat in hand, at the public trough for a second time.
The Diamondbacks need to take heed, a franchise embroiled in their own current spat with Maricopa County, where Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred threw his weight behind our baseball team the way Bettman did with the Coyotes. This confluence of conflict and entitlement threatens to tear us apart just when we’re nearing adulthood as a sports mecca, turning people away from Arizona teams just when we seemed to be making significant strides.
So what happens next?
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Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was once an outspoken proponent of a multi-use facility shared by the Suns, the Coyotes and every musical act stopping through Phoenix on their way to Los Angeles. Does he have the stomach, political juice and conviction to keep fighting this battle, after a survey showed seven of 10 voters oppose funding a new hockey arena? Does he have the fortitude to put public pressure on Robert Sarver to be more neighborly, to bend for the common good?
So far, the Suns owner has played this game with a keen eye and uncommon restraint. He has asked for nothing and shown zero impatience. He seems content to wait out the five years necessary to void his lease at Talking Stick Resort Arena, effectively shutting down any chance of co-tenancy with the Coyotes.
To the contrary, the Suns claim to be looking at costs involved with refurbishing their current arena rather than requesting a sparkling new facility. That’s a genius move that should fool no one. The Suns sorely want a much bigger facility that can house their basketball team as well as Beyonce and Ed Sheeran, but they don’t want to share living quarters with the Coyotes, and they don’t want to get involved in the current political firestorm.
That’s why Bettman chose to lash out at the local legislature. He knows that options are dwindling, and losing an eight-year battle to keep the Coyotes in Arizona will reflect very poorly on his vision and his long-term branding of the NHL.
But sports fans in the Valley are smarter than they look. The Coyotes have failed on their end of the bargain, running their franchise on the cheap while depending on handouts to survive. If this team had consistently exposed Arizonans to the majesty of playoff hockey over the past decade, this conversation would sound much different.
Truth is, they haven’t done anything to warrant a second home on our dime. And even though head coach Dave Tippett is a great coach with a stellar reputation in the Valley, he openly admits his team is at least “two years away” from playoff contention.
Nobody that cares about Arizona wants to lose our NHL team or our elite status as a big-league sports market. But few can rationalize another plateful of public funding to build another new arena for a NHL franchise that has one extended playoff run in 21 years. The Coyotes didn’t help matters in a press release blaming their current location for alienating their “premium ticketholders and ticket sponsors.” What does that say to the people who currently show up to games with open minds and open hearts?
It means that Coyotes fans could digress into class warfare. It could lead to a division between hockey fans and NBA fans in the Valley, especially if Sarver doesn’t willingly come to the rescue.
It’s a bad deal for everyone at the worst possible time. And it could cost Bettman the one NHL market that appreciated his doggedness and loyalty, the one fan base that cheered whenever he showed up for hockey games in Glendale.
Reach Bickley at [email protected] or 602-444-8253. Follow him on twitter.com/dan.bickley. Listen to “Bickley and Marotta” weekdays from 12-2 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.