Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes

Hope in the desert? Phoenix Coyotes’ season ticket sales, renewals show promise


As much as ownership situations are often plagued by misdirection, misinformation and mystery, there aren’t many that have dragged on as long as the Phoenix Coyotes fiasco. Joe accurately pegged it at four years, but when you consider the effects of the modern Internet-prompted news cycle, it feels like this story has been around for a generation.

Most of the recent news/scuttlebutt related to the Coyotes’ ownership woes hasn’t been particularly promising. Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs recently discussed what life would be like if the city was saddled with Arena but no major professional sports teams. Matt Hulsizer – far and away the franchise’s brightest hope for a possible new owner – finally got fed up with all the red tape and dropped his bid to own the Coyotes in late June, possibly focusing on buying the St. Louis Blues instead. After making the playoffs for the past two seasons, the Coyotes might have some worries on the ice as well given the departure of much-leaned-upon netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.

Despite all this negativity, the Coyotes have some reason to keep their heads held high. The cash-strapped franchise might have allowed Bryzgalov to flee, but they managed the underrated task of retaining their underrated star defenseman Keith Yandle. The best news might be at the box office, though: the Arizona Republic passes along a report that the Coyotes sold 1,000 new season ticket packages as of July 1, a boost that ranks them fifth overall in the NHL.

Naturally, there might be a few caveats to that announcement. For one thing, the top five accolade is a little misleading since many of the league’s most successful teams don’t need to sell that many extra season tickets. In addition to that asterisk, there are probably some snarky types who will say that the Coyotes’ 2010-11 sales were so close to the bottom of the barrel that 1,000 more season ticket packages isn’t as impressive as it might sound.

With those “Yeah, but … ” statements in mind, there was another promising improvement: that Arizona Republic story also reveals that the renewal rate for season tickets is at 90 percent, a Coyotes franchise record. Even if you say that 90 percent of a mediocre amount of tickets is a small victory, it’s still a promising development for a franchise that has been browbeaten by bad news for years now.

If nothing else, this development might help the team drum up some interest from a potential owner once again. The Coyotes have been a fairly successful squad the last two years, but they still haven’t won a playoff series in a long time. One can imagine them developing a solidly reinvigorated fan base if they manage more substantial playoff runs … especially if fans know that the team will still be there the following season.

Coyotes GM ‘called right away’ on Hamonic

Don Maloney
Leave a comment

You can add Arizona to the list of teams that tried to get in on the Travis Hamonic sweepstakes.

“[He’s] a talented player,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said, per the Arizona Republic. “We certainly called right away, but we do not have a good fit for them right now.

“That’s the bottom line. They’re looking for a ready-made complement player.”

Hamonic, who requested a trade out of New York, is garnering plenty of interest across the league. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported five clubs — Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado and Minnesota — were in the mix, with Sportsnet floating potential trade chips like the Jets’ Jacob Trouba, and the Flames’ T.J. Brodie.

It’s unsurprising the Coyotes didn’t have a fit for Isles GM Garth Snow.

It’s hard to imagine — nearly impossible, really — to think Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be on the move, and the rest of the Arizona defense is comprised of unheralded youngsters (Michael Stone, Connor Murphy) or grizzled vets (Nicklas Grossmann, Zbynek Michalek).

But Maloney’s remarks are still noteworthy, because he more we hear about the Hamonic situation, the clearer the asking price gets.

Related: Hamonic willing to finish season with Isles

Star struck: Sens chase Niemi after three goals on nine shots (Update: And now he’s back)

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
Leave a comment

Bet Antti Niemi misses playing Buffalo.

Niemi, who stopped 46 of 47 shots in back-to-back wins over the Sabres last week, was hooked during Tuesday’s game against the Senators after allowing three goals on nine shots.

In Niemi’s defense, tonight’s goals weren’t exactly his fault.

John Klingberg coughed up the puck badly on Bobby Ryan‘s opening tally…

And on Ottawa’s second goal, Jyrki Jokipakka lost a board battle moments before Milan Michalek snapped one home:

The Sens’ third marker also came on a turnover.

Update: Well, this is quite the night for Dallas netminders. Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi, allowed a goal, then got hurt in this collision with Klingberg, which forced him from the game and Niemi back into action.

Foley aware of Seattle reports, but says Vegas is ‘proceeding as if we will play in 2017’

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
Leave a comment

Bill Foley, the man behind Las Vegas’ prospective NHL expansion team, says he knows about reports claiming the league is keeping an eye on a proposed Seattle arena.

He also says he isn’t going to worry about things out of his control.

“I’m aware of what’s going on (in Seattle) but in my communication with the league, our situation isn’t dependent on third parties,” Foley said Tuesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We believe we’re in good shape and we’re proceeding as if we will play in 2017.”

Over the weekend, a Seattle Times piece suggested the NHL had yet to award Vegas or Quebec City an expansion franchise because the league is “avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Han­sen’s proposed Sodo District arena.”

The piece also suggested Seattle could be granted an expansion club for the 2018-19 campaign.


That vote, on granting Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South for his arena, is expected by January. No one knows how it will go, only that the lead-up should be politically charged and fiercely contested.

But passing it — future legal appeals notwithstanding — paves the way for Hansen to obtain his Master Use Permit and have his arena “shovel ready” should he choose to build.

And that means, once a vote passes, it’s entirely possible the NHL could conditionally award Seattle an expansion team.

To his credit, Foley remains solely focused on his Vegas bid — not what potential rival bids could bring to the table. And while he confirmed he has yet to be invited to the Dec. 7 NHL Board of Governor’s meeting in Pebble Beach, he re-iterated his only objective is to strengthen Sin City’s case for a hockey team.

“I’m focused on trying to find a place to build our practice facility,” he said. “I’m focused on the new arena and our fans who’ve put down deposits on season tickets.”

Report: Sabres’ Lehner (ankle) suffered minor setback in recovery

Robin Lehner
1 Comment

Sabres fans hoping Robin Lehner would return early from his high ankle sprain received some tough news on Tuesday — per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Lehner suffered a “little setback” in his recovery.

Lehner was hurt in Buffalo’s opening game of the year and, originally, slated to miss 6-10 weeks. Six weeks have now passed, but optimism he’d be able to return in the earlier part of the timeframe has been dashed — LeBrun says Lehner’s projected return is now for mid-to-late December.

(So, closer to the 10-week estimate.)

While it’s not great news for the Sabres, it’s a positive development for the club’s other Swedish netminder, Linus Ullmark.

Recalled from AHL Rochester shortly after Lehner got hurt, Ullmark is on a really nice run in November — just check his last five games played:


The last Lehner update from the Sabres came in early November, when head coach Dan Bylsma told the News his goalie was “doing really well,” but “not close yet to getting back on the ice.”