Last night the Phoenix Coyotes were swept out of the first round of playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings. For the last two years the Coyotes were a team that was handcuffed and unable to expand their budget, resign impending free agent like Ilya Bryzgalov, and had to face relentless questioning about a possible move to Winnipeg.The media chose to focus on the possible relocation to Winnipeg rather than the teams run at a Stanley Cup. It got so bad that the Phoenix Coyotes had to ban all question involving the “W” word.
Meanwhile Canada’s media was no better. TSN recently launched their new radio station which is looking to take over the market share currently held by Rogers Sportsnet and their radio station the Fan 590. In what was a huge day for radio in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the Fan 590’s hockey guru’s Nick Kypreos took to the airwaves and claimed that the NHL will announce, after Phoenix is eliminated, that the team is relocating
There has been a mixed reaction from players about the pending move. Some players see is a great opportunity to play in a strong hockey market. Coyote forward Paul Bissonnette said earlier this year that there would be a lot of advantages as a player to live in Winnipeg. Bissonnette likes the idea of living in a town where they would be the only major sports team. Siting that this would give them first dibs on girls.
Others aren’t so optimistic however. One day after being eliminated from the playoffs, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, told the media if the team does in fact relocate to Winnipeg that he wouldn’t resign with them. Not only would he not resign but he apparently would not even listen to an offer. He loves playing in Arizona, who can blame him, and relates Winnipeg to Russia. His preference would be to just sign in the KHL rather than play in Winnipeg. Not because he hates Winnipeg but just for the fact the culture is not like Russia but the weather is.
I just hope now that the Coyotes are out of the playoffs we can let this relocation talk die down a bit and enjoy the great hockey that is still being played. No matter how you look at it the NHL is running out of time. I fully expect the NHL to announce the future plans for the Phoenix Coyotes by the time playoffs end. Which means it still may be a few weeks before we know anything but the end is near. The NHL has to settle this situation prior to the NHL Draft in late June. Ideally Winnipeg would get notice prior to that so they can launch their season ticket campaigns and get everything in order for September. Unfortunately for us fans before we can start our “Go Jets Go” chants, we have to sit here and play the waiting game.
To borrow a line from the NHL Draft, Gary Bettman you are on the clock.