NBCSN concludes its coverage of the 2013-14 regular season tonight when the Phoenix Coyotes host the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena at 9:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
Next week the playoffs will begin and the hunt for the Stanley Cup truly starts, but before that happens, we need to close the curtain on the season. The Coyotes just wish this game was being played under different circumstances.
It wasn’t long ago that the battle between Phoenix and Dallas for the final Wild Card spot looked like it might come down to the wire. Instead the Coyotes collapsed with seven straight losses.
That would be a devastating blow for any team, but it’s particularly bad for the Coyotes as they try to prove that that an NHL club an flourish in Glendale now that they finally have an ownership group in place.
Let’s not forget that the new owners, IceArizona, have an out clause that would allow them to terminate their arena-management agreement and presumably relocate the franchise if the team accumulates $50 million in losses over five years.
IceArizona has been vocal about their desire to keep the team in Arizona, but they are still drawing an average of just 13,741 fans per home game, per ESPN, compared to 13,923 in the shortened season and 12,420 in 2011-12. Team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc acknowledged in December that he was “a little disappointed” with the team’s attendance.
Coyotes chairman George Gosbee added recently that making the playoffs are “fundamentally, absolutely” important as part of the team’s push to establish a winning culture.
None of those problems will be solved tonight. For the Coyotes, what this game’s about is leaving their fans with a silver lining. To win so that the last thing they remember about this season isn’t a horrid losing streak.
Now that the Stars are locked into the second Wild Card spot, they are expected to rest some guys and the rest will focus on building momentum ahead of the playoffs. This game has meaning to the Stars, but perhaps the Coyotes have more at stake even with their run ending tonight.