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Why the Coyotes are moving to Seattle

Why the Coyotes are moving to Seattle

In a not-so-shocking development, the Phoenix Coyotes are yet again rumored to be on the move, unable to find anyone who wants to buy the team in Arizona. The probable destination this time? Seattle, Washington.

The move is long overdue, and I’m not just talking about the Coyotes getting the hell out of the desert.

Seattle is, in fact, a sports city, or at least has the potential to become one (in addition to the music and business and whatnot). Whereas Yotes fans seemed to attend games leisurely as if it were just something to do on rainy days, the city of Seattle is poised to fill an NHL arena with hockey-hungry fans regardless of what’s going on (usually rain).

The Seattle Seahawks (NFL) are renowned for having the loudest building in the league, and their home record is consistently incredible as a result; in their past three seasons, they’re 17-7 at home and 8-20 on the road. They have a rabid basketball fanbase that, after having the Supersonics [unjustly] taken from them, have almost earned the return of an NBA franchise, much like Winnipeg’s hockey. The Seattle Sounders consistently have the best MLS attendance ratings; in fact, they set records in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 for attendance, breaking their own record each year. Hell, the city even strongly supports the Seattle Mariners (MLB), despite them being terrible year after year. Oh, they also already have a hockey team that they support, the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. If they aren’t ready for an NHL team, I don’t know what city is.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle sports fans are a passionate bunch, especially the rabid Seahawks fanbase, and now the city wants (and deserves) an NHL team.
(Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

And it’s not just the people in Seattle and the entire state of Washington that are craving a hockey team, it’s all those hockey enthusiasts in states in the surrounding area, including Oregon (Portland Winterhawks of the CHL since 1967), Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota (yes, those are indeed actual states, I checked), that don’t have an immediate NHL team to cheer for. Hockey is actually significant in the Northwestern United States, whereas it’s pretty irrelevant in the Southwest. Besides Mount Rushmore, college hockey is pretty much the only thing the Dakotas have (the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team has 19 Frozen Four appearances and seven D1 championships).

Now, going further than that, what other hockey-related things are near Seattle? That’s right, the city of Vancouver: a Canadian city whose economy I assume is based on hockey, just 120 miles away (thanks, Wolfram Alpha). If Seattle reclaims an NBA franchise (in addition to the NHL team), that gives each city three two matching professional sports teams and one juniors team: one in the NHL, NBA (Vancouver Grizzlies), MLS (Vancouver Whitecaps), and WHL (Vancouver Giants). And there you have it, a natural rivalry is born. (edit: it has recently come to my attention that the Vancouver Grizzlies are no longer an NBA team. I am embarrassed to have made that mistake. But seriously, WHAT YEAR IS IT???)

Even if the Seattle team doesn’t draw well, you better believe that Vancouver fans will make the short trip to see the Canucks play (assuming they aren’t already in Washington), something that doesn’t really happen with Phoenix because their neighbors, the Kings and Ducks, are not as popular so fans don’t have as much trouble getting tickets to their home games like Nucks fans do. (Fun fact: Vancouver altered its plans to move its AHL affiliate to Seattle because of the probable move, sending them to Utica, New York instead, which should tell you something about the likelihood of this deal.)

Seattle

Is Seattle the best option for a new NHL team? (Spoiler: it’s yes). Its proximity to Canada would make for the first real U.S.-Canada sports rivalry.
(seattlecenter.org)

They would be a marketable team. If only for the fact that they’re a new team in city that has earned itself the perception of being a desirable and appropriate city for a hockey team, the excitement of an emerging franchise would probably be enough for fans to tune into some NBC broadcasts of that team.

Which leads us into our next topic: increased revenue. The improved viewership would generate ratings the NHL desperately needs if they want NBC or any major U.S. TV network to pursue a partnership with the league. The two organizations combined to market the bag out of Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins to make them the most important thing in the world after the lockout (not that lockout), generating interest amongst casual fans; why not do something similar with Seattle?

Ticket sales would presumably be through the roof, especially compared to Phoenix’s, and at least the first season would likely be sold out almost immediately. With the right marketing and design team, the new team could make the NHL millions through merchandising of their new and fresh apparel (I hope they’d go with a flamboyant blue/green like the city’s other teams).

One of the important things about the move that we need to consider is that realignment will proceed as planned: Seattle and Phoenix are in the same time zones, and Phoenix is set to move into a conference that features cities all along that West coast, including Calgary, Anaheim, and, yup, Vancouver. The switch would be seamless in that regard.

Seattle realignment

The whole realignment issue would have been much simpler if Phoenix moved to Seattle four years ago when the Coyotes declared bankruptcy.
(bladejobsofsteel.com)

Speaking of a seamless move, let’s talk about the most important factor to consider for a team on the move: Seattle’s new stadium. They’re already getting a brand new, state-of-the-art arena in lieu of the hopeful return of an NBA team that will be entirely capable of handling NHL games (the NHL team would probably play in KeyArena until its completion).

I get that the NHL and megalomaniac Gary Bettman want hockey to succeed in the South and the Southwest in their goal to have a pro hockey team in all crevasses and corners of the country, which is why Arizona has a team…but is Phoenix really a part of that plan? Southern California is very close to Arizona – the Anaheim Ducks are 334 miles from the Coyotes and the Los Angeles Kings 365, very close in terms of Western Conference teams (the closest U.S. team to Seattle is San Jose at 713 miles). I’d say that area of the country is covered. Gary, It’s time to look at the corner of the U.S. map that I presume has been covered with pictures of Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, which is the only explanation I can figure as to why they don’t already have a team.

Essentially, moving Phoenix to not-Phoenix is a great option in itself so we can avoid this dance of bankruptcy and relocation every year, but Seattle is one of the best choices, if not the best city to acquire an NHL team. And let’s be honest, those residents could use more than just something to do on all those rainy days.

Scott Finger
Scott is the former managing editor at Hooked on Hockey Magazine. He loves hockey, writing, and writing about hockey. He graduated from Roger Williams University in 2011 with a useless degree in Media Communications (concentrating in Journalism). Being a New York Rangers fan (and NY Giants and Mets fan) living in Boston is very uncomfortable for him, and it'll be awkward trying to celebrate a Rangers Cup win in the streets when they inevitably win sometime in the next 100 years. He also likes long walks on the beach.
Scott Finger
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4 comments
moogie
moogie

Anyway Seattle is no where near ready to have an NHL rink. The only city that is ready now is Quebec city.


Seattle should be far down the list of NHL ready cities. You guys do realise that this sport is played on the ice and that you need a very specific rink to play it right?


Quebec City in Canada is the only real choice. They  will have a top of the line rink in less than 2 years and they already have an NHL rink ready until the new one is ready. And frankly Quebec is 100% more Hockey than anything you guys have in the states.

Stick man 09
Stick man 09

They should be named the Seattle Metropolitans. Built in history as it was the first US team to win the Stanley cup.

KristoferLeeSchroeter
KristoferLeeSchroeter

i have one issue with this article, there is already a very real us vs canada rivalry in the nhl in montreal vs boston, it is one of the best rivalries in sports overal

GaryLivingston
GaryLivingston

@KristoferLeeSchroeter He didn't say anything about a "us vs canada" rivalry.  He just said it would be an instant rivalry due to the close proximity of the two teams and the already established history between Vancouver and Seattle.  


And, there is no such thing as a US vs Canada rivalry in the NHL unless you are a moron.  Most of the players on each team are Canadian while the rest are a mix of US and European players.  If you're one of those jackasses that chants "USA USA USA" you need to shut up and think about how ignorant you are.  Save that for the Olympics and World Championships! 

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