Lockout Day 32- Howling Good Interview !


Apr. 3, 2012; Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) makes a save while laying on the ice as defenseman Michal Rozsival (32), defenseman Rostislav Klesla (16) and Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Russell (25) and right wing Derek Dorsett (15) look on in the second period at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes beat the Blue Jackets 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

With a “ko wink e dink” that’s amazing I was contacted by Jack Briggs, the Fansided editor of the the Phoenix Coyotes blog site, Howling Hockey. The reason for the coincidence was that trying to write a hockey blog when there “ain’t no hockey” is tough. But I had fun and learned a lot with the Minnesota Going Puck Wild editor Derek, so I was thinking what other team does the Blue Jackets have a connection with so we could do another interview. The obvious answer was the Coyotes. Before it was more that a thought, Jack contacted me and ……………..We ended up doing mutual interviews, which I will share with you. I found his answers relative to the situation with the Coyotes very interesting. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I also am well aware that we could have some breaking NHL news and the prospects are playing, so I’ll try to keep up with all that.

First let me give our Columbus readers a little background re, the Coyotes. Some of them I’m sure don’t know the general origin and background  The Coyotes were founded in 1972 as the original Winnipeg Jetsof the WHA and were one of four franchises absorbed into the NHL when the WHA folded in 1979. The team moved to Phoenix on July 1, 1996. Due to financial difficulties, the NHL has owned the Phoenix Coyotes franchise since 2009.

Q- Jack, please tell us about your blog and you.

Jack-I grew up in Western NY and rooted for the Buffalo Sabres. We only had three channels on the tv (all from Buffalo) and I loved listening to the games on the radio. I thought it was coolest game to listen to on the radio. Then one day, a Canadian television feed appeared. And they had Hockey Night In Canada. It was like a dream come true. I got to learn about the game from Peter Puck as I watched hockey.

I started writing on the site in September of 2011 during training camp. The only stories that were coming out on the Coyotes were negative. Even the local media was mostly negative. The television stations would carry five seconds of Coyotes news during the season. It was non-existent during the preseason. Even though the team made the playoffs two years in a row, the media didn’t care. There are Canadian born broadcasters on tv here who were rooting for the team to move back to Canada. When news would break that a deal to sell the team to a local owner would fall apart, it was like Christmas morning to these guys.

I would search for a piece of news on the team. There was virtually no professional coverage, just another blog site like what we do. I saw Howlin’ Hockey was looking for a writer and decided if not me, then who? I started writing and assumed the editor duties. Just like you, I am a one man team.

"Having said all that, I have to say the continuing thread of news always concerns the status of the Coyotes. Like: Are they staying in Phoenix? Are they being bought? Are they being bought to be moved?"

Jack-The former owner Jerry Moyes wanted to sell the team to Jim Balsillie (former CEO of RIM, the parent company of Blackberry. Thank God that didn’t happen, how is Blackberry doing these days?). To get out of the lease on the City of Glendale owned arena (Jobing.com), he had to put them in bankruptcy. This voids the lease and allows the team to leave with no fee or penalty. Every day, Gary Bettman and Bill Daly were in bankruptcy court. When the ownership was awarded to the NHL, we thought it was only a matter of time until an owner would be found. Well, we are waiting three years later.

The problem is the City of Glendale. Glendale is on the west side of Phoenix and not as populated or as wealthy as the east side. The franchise was moved from downtown where the Coyotes shared an arena with the Phoenix Suns basketball team. The ice rink was kind of shoehorned in the basketball arena. From one of the upper decks you could not see the blue line or in below you. You saw about 2/3 of the ice. 

Everyone thought the Coyotes needed an arena that allowed for full view of the ice. The logical choice was to move them where the money lives. That is the east side, and specifically Scottsdale. 70% of the season ticket holders at that time lived on the east side of Phoenix. The team practices in Scottsdale. The management offices were in Scottsdale. The players live in Scottsdale. And there was a vacant piece of land close to all major freeways that was big enough for an arena. Unfortunately, the mayor of Scottsdale would not allow the Coyotes to buy the land and build their dream arena. She thought it was too valuable. Today the parcel is underdeveloped with vacant automobile dealerships nearby. 

Glendale was chosen because the city government was willing to build and arena with retail and restaurants in a complex called Westgate. A multi-screen movie theatre, shops, offices, and the Coyotes. Then the Phoenix Cardinals ended their hate/hate relationship with Arizona State University and got the state of Arizona to build them a modern stadium right next door. They decided to take advantage of what Glendale was building for the Coyotes. Very smart decision by the owners of the Cardinals. The state builds them a stadium, all the amenities are in place, and the costs are to be carried by tourists and residents. 

Gary Bettman and Bill Daly did the Lord’s work in getting the team out of bankruptcy and put their stake in the ground as the Coyotes are to located in Arizona. There is a large hockey fanbase here. You have the area population grow by at least thirty percent when the snowbirds arrive. Even when the team was not winning, you would see sellout or near sellouts when Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo, or a Canadian team is on the calendar. Now that they are winning, we feel like we can emotionally invest as well as financially invest.

to be continued