For a franchise that’s counting on dramatically increasing its ticket revenue in order to avoid relocation, the Arizona Coyotes sure aren’t giving their fans much to cheer about.
Saturday in Glendale, the Coyotes lost their fifth straight home game, falling 3-0 to Calgary in front of 13,530 attendees at Gila River Arena. The defeat dropped Arizona’s record to 9-12-3; the Coyotes currently sit seven points back of Winnipeg for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Which is to say, making the playoffs has already become a serious long shot. Only the Oilers have a worse record in the conference.
That’s worth noting, because prior to the season GM Don Maloney said the Coyotes “need to be a playoff team,” since that’s “what’s going to get people excited and in the building.”
These days, Maloney’s singing a different tune, alluding to a potential youth movement in the desert.
“When you take a hard look at where you’re at relative to the competition and when you take a look at what’s happening around the league, I think that’s where we need to take this team,” he said, per FOX Sports Arizona. “The team speed and tempo and pace that we play at it is not as high as it needs to be. The way you get more quickness is generally with younger players and you see that all around the league.
He added, “The last three to four years, we’ve been reaching down to older, veteran players and that’s how we started the season, but we haven’t gotten the results we had hoped to get.”
Another thing about young players? They generally work cheaper than veterans. Veterans like Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle, each of whom has been the subject of trade speculation. Maloney has said he’d like to “make a deal” with Vermette, but nothing has been agreed upon with the pending unrestricted free agent.
Attendance-wise, the Coyotes are averaging 13,104 fans this season, more than only Carolina and Florida. They finished last season at 13,775.
If we were talking about a good team, we could expect crowds to improve as the season wore on and the playoff race heated up. Alas, we’re not talking about a good team. The way things are trending, Arizona could be all but out of the playoff race by Christmas.