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The Phoenix Coyotes are a professional ice hockey team currently based in Glendale, Arizonamarker, just outside of Phoenixmarker. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). They play their home games at Arenamarker.

The Coyotes were founded in 1972 as the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association (WHA), joining the NHL in 1979 and moving to Phoenix in 1996. Their home ice was at the US Airways Centermarker (then known as America West Arena) for seven years until 2003, when Arena opened.

On May 5, 2009, the Coyotes filed for bankruptcy. The team is now owned by the NHL, which plans to resell the team to an owner who will keep them in the Phoenix/Glendale area.

Franchise history

The team began play as the Winnipeg Jets, one of the founding franchises in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The Jets were the most successful team in the short-lived WHA, winning the Avco World Trophy, the league's championship trophy, three times and making the finals five out of the WHA's seven seasons. It then became one of the four teams admitted to the NHL as part of a merger that saw the financially-struggling WHA fold in 1979.

However, the club was never able to translate that success into the NHL after the merger. As part of the terms under which the former WHA teams joined the NHL, the established NHL teams were allowed to reclaim most of the players that jumped to the upstart league. The Jets lost most of their best players in the ensuing reclamation draft. As a result, they finished last in the NHL during their first two seasons, including a nine-win season in 1980–81 that is still the worst in franchise history. They recovered fairly quickly, however, making the playoffs 11 times in the next 15 seasons. However, they only won two playoff series largely due to being in the same division as the powerful Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. Because of the way the playoffs were structured for much of their Winnipeg run, they were all but assured of having to defeat either the Oilers or the Flames (or both) to reach the Conference Finals. In 1984–85, for instance, they finished with the fifth-best record in the league, only to be bounced by the Oilers in the division finals.

The Jets ran into financial trouble when player salaries began spiraling up in the 1990s; this hit the Canadian teams particularly hard. Winnipeg was the second-smallest market in the NHL for most of the Jets' existence, and after the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denvermarker in 1995 to become the Colorado Avalanche, it became the smallest market. In addition, the Jets' home arena, Winnipeg Arenamarker, was one of the smallest in the league. Despite strong fan support, several attempts to keep the team in Winnipeg ultimately fell through. In the spring of 1996, Phoenix businessmen Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke along with a local investor group bought the team with plans to move it to Phoenix for the 1996–97 season. A name-the-team contest yielded the nickname "Coyotes."

The Early Phoenix years (1996–2005)

In the summer that the move took place, the franchise saw the exit of Jets star Alexei Zhamnov, while the team added established superstar Jeremy Roenick from the Chicago Blackhawks. Roenick teamed up with power wingers Keith Tkachuk and Rick Tocchet to form a dynamic 1–2–3 offensive punch that led the Coyotes through their first years in Arizona. Also impressive were young players like Shane Doan (as of the current season the last remaining Coyote dating to the team's days in Winnipeg), Oleg Tverdovsky, and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, whom the fans nicknamed the "Bulin Wall."

Another key addition to the squad was veteran forward Mike Gartner, who had come over from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite his experience and scoring his 700th career goal on December 15, 1997, Gartner battled injuries in the latter half of the 1997-98 season. The Coyotes did not renew his contract, and he retired at the end of the season.

After arriving in Phoenix, the team posted six consecutive .500 or better seasons, making the playoffs in every year but one. The one time they didn't make the playoffs, in 2000-01, they became the first team to earn 90 points and miss the playoffs. They were tremendously popular, in part because of the large number of Northern transplants in the Phoenix area.

However, the Coyotes' home during their first eight years in Phoenix, America West Arenamarker, was completely inadequate for hockey. Although considered a state-of-the-the-art arena when it was built for the Phoenix Suns basketball team, the floor was just barely large enough to fit a standard NHL rink. The building was hastily re-engineered to accommodate the 200 foot rink, and the configuration left a portion of one end of the upper deck hanging over the boards and ice, obscuring almost a third of the rink and one goal from several sections. As a result, listed capacity had to be cut down to just over 16,000 — the second-smallest in the league at the time — after the first season.

Burke bought out Gluckstern in 1998, but was unable to attract more investors to alleviate the team's financial woes (see below). Finally, in 2001, Burke sold the team to Phoenix-area developer Steve Ellman, with Wayne Gretzky as a part-owner and head of hockey operations.

To this day, however, the Coyotes have never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. The franchise has not won a playoff series since 1987, when it was still in Winnipeg. The closest that they came to advancing past the first round was during the 1999 playoffs, when they lost a heartbreaking Game 7 to the St. Louis Blues. In 2002, the Coyotes posted 95 points, one point behind their best total as an NHL team, but made a rather meek first-round exit from the playoffs, being eliminated in five games by the San Jose Sharks.

From then until the 2007–08 season, the Coyotes were barely competitive and managed to break the 80–point barrier only once during that time. Attendance levels dropped considerably, worrying many league executives. In addition, an unfavorable lease with the city of Phoenix (owner of America West Arena) had the team running massive losses (as much as $40 million a year at one point ); the Coyotes have never really recovered from the resulting financial problems.

In 2003, the team opened Glendale Arena, now known as Arenamarker, and moved there in 2003. Ellman had committed to building the new arena after numerous proposals to improve the hockey sight lines in America West Arena came to nothing. Simultaneously, the team changed its logo and uniforms, moving from the previous multi-colored kit to a more streamlined look.

In 2005, Ellman sold the Coyotes, the National Lacrosse League's Arizona Sting and the lease to Arena to trucking magnate Jerry Moyes, who is also a part-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gretzky Era (2005 – 2009)

The Coyotes' shoulder patch.

On August 6, 2005, Brett Hull, son of former Jet Bobby Hull, was signed and promptly assigned the elder Hull's #9 retired. Two days later, Gretzky named himself head coach, replacing Rick Bowness, despite the fact that he had never coached at any level of hockey. The Coyotes 'Ring of Honor' was unveiled on October 8, inducting Gretzky (who had never played for the organization) and Bobby Hull. Only a week later, Brett Hull announced his retirement. On January 21, 2006, Jets great Thomas Steen was the third inductee to the 'Ring of Honor.'

Another moment in a series of bad luck: The Coyotes were planning to host the 2006 NHL All-Star Game, but the event was canceled because of the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The team returned to Winnipegmarker on September 17, 2006, to play a pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers, but were shut-out 5–0 before a sellout crowd of 15,015.

On April 11, 2007, CEO Jeff Shumway announced that general manager Michael Barnett (Gretzky's agent for over 20 years), senior executive vice president of hockey operations Cliff Fletcher, and San Antonio Rampage's general manager and Coyotes' assistant general manager Laurence Gilman "have been relieved of their duties." The Coyotes finished the 2006–2007 season 31–46–5, its worst record since relocating to Phoenix.

On May 29, 2007, Jeff Shumway announced that Don Maloney had agreed to a multi-year contract to become General Manager of the Coyotes. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed. However, as has been the case with all general managers since 2001, Maloney serves in an advisory role to Gretzky.

The 2007–08 season was something of a resurgence for the Coyotes. After their disastrous 2006–07 campaign, the Coyotes looked to rebuild the team by relying on their drafted talent such as Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal to make the team successful as opposed to using free agency. The Coyotes also acquired Radim Vrbata from the Chicago Blackhawks for Kevyn Adams in an effort to provide the team with more offense. The team signed both Alex Auld and David Aebischer to compete for the starting goaltender position with Mikael Tellqvist acting as the backup goaltender. Neither Auld or Aebischer were able to hold on to the starting position, leaving the Coyotes to turn to the waiver wire for assistance. On November 17, 2007, the Coyotes were able to claim Ilya Bryzgalov off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks. Bryzgalov responded by not only starting in goal the day he was acquired, but posing a shutout in his Coyotes debut against the Los Angeles Kings. Bryzgalov was soon given a 3–year contract extension because of his high level of play. Despite predictions of another disastrous season, the Coyotes played competitive hockey for most of the season. However, they finished eight points short of the last playoff spot, with 83 points.

On December 23, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported that the Coyotes were receiving financial assistance from the league in the form of advances on league revenues. The Coyotes pledged all of their assets to New York company SOF Investments LP to cover an estimated debt of $80 million. The team had lost an estimated $200 million since 2001 and in recent years posted heavy losses, including $41.6 million in 2006-07, $37.3 million during the 2007-08 season, and $54 million in 2008-09. One of the team's owners, Jerry Moyes' principal source of revenue, Swift Transportation was also in financial difficulty. ESPN reported that the league has become involved with the operations of the Coyotes and their revenues. The NHL apparently wanted to work with the city of Glendale which owns the arena and receives revenues from the team. ESPN also reported that Moyes was interested in selling his share of the team. Hollywood producer, and noted hockey fan, Jerry Bruckheimer was cited as a possible investor.

2009 Bankruptcy Filing

On May 5, the Coyotes' holding company, Dewey Ranch Hockey LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In a statement, Moyes announced that he had agreed in principle to sell the team to PSE Sports and Entertainment, headed by Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie, for $212.5 million. As part of the deal, Balsillie intended to move the Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontariomarker. Although initial reports said that Balsillie was considering Kitchenermarker as well, Hamilton already has an NHL-sized arena in place, Copps Coliseummarker, and Balsillie was already in talks with city officials to secure a lease for the arena. Hamilton had previously bid for an NHL team in the 1990s, narrowly losing out to Ottawa. Balsillie had previously made unsuccessful approaches to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators, with the intent of relocating either team to Hamilton.

Anyone who wanted to make a counteroffer had to exceed Balsillie's bid by at least $5 million.. At Moyes' request, Balsillie has also agreed to post debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing of $17 million. Balsillie's efforts also including the creation of a large public relations effort, purportedly to curry favor among public opinion for the upcoming bankruptcy hearing.

The announcement came as a surprise to the NHL and even to Coyotes staffers. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had helped broker a deal that would have seen the Coyotes sold to Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. The Reinsdorf deal would have seen the Coyotes stay in Arizona. Terms of the Reinsdorf deal were not disclosed, but The Sports Network's Bob McKenzie speculated that it was almost certainly less than the Balsillie offer.

The NHL responded by stripping Moyes of virtually all of his ownership authority (though he still owns the team on paper). Bettman said that Moyes may not have had the authority to file the bankruptcy petition, and may not have even been in full control of the team by virtue of the massive financial assistance he'd received. Although it has been widely speculated that southern Ontario is big enough to support a third NHL team alongside the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, Bettman suggested that it was not likely the league would approve any plan to move the Coyotes to Canada, and accused Moyes and Balsillie of attempting to "circumvent" league rules. He also reiterated that the NHL was committed to the Phoenix area.

The bankruptcy hearing was scheduled for May 7, 2009. Court documents submitted by Moyes cite 30 creditors, including Moyes himself for an amount in excess of US$103 million. TSN's Bob McKenzie said that Moyes was very receptive to Balsillie's offer because, as the team's largest unsecured creditor, the best chance of getting most of his money back was to persuade someone to buy the team out of bankruptcy. The league's position was that it was Moyes' fault that he wasted money in attempting to make the team successful and that he was entitled to only $14 million of $103 million loss, which would have been the case if Jerry Reinsdorf's lower bid was accepted.

At the bankruptcy hearing, the NHL argued that it had been in control of the team since November by virtue of a proxy agreement with Moyes. The NHL claimed this agreement, and several others signed by Moyes, specifically barred Moyes from filing for bankruptcy. Moyes claimed that the agreement only gave the league voting rights, not outright control. Bankruptcy court judge Redfield Baum scheduled a second hearing for May 19 to determine who actually controls the team. However, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that regardless of how the judge ruled, the league owners would have the final say in whether to allow the Coyotes to move. Daly repeated Bettman's doubts about Balsillie's bid, saying Balsillie was acting "in total disregard" for NHL rules. The NHL Board of Governors voted unanimously against approving Balsillie as an owner, saying that he lacked "good character and integrity". Balsillie responded in a filing saying that "the NHL has long tolerated indicted and even convicted criminals among its ranks", noting that moral grounds and questions of character have never been used "in the entire history of the NHL to reject any applicant."

While Bettman has let it be known that he wants to keep the team in Phoenix, he previously allowed the Winnipeg Jets to move south to Phoenix, after a combined effort from grassroots supporters and businesses failed to raise the requisite $111 million operating capital pool. Bettman's motivations, although hotly contested among Canadian media circles and fans, appear to be the growth of the NHL's business in American and European markets. Despite the controversy, Bettman has been consistent in promoting his business model, though his efforts have yielded some limited success, but have prompted a significant portion of the NHL fan base to oppose Bettman.

At the May 19 hearing, Baum ordered the NHL and Moyes to settle the ownership question through mediation, while expressing skepticism for the NHL's argument that the proxy agreements gave it control of the team. He said that he needed to decide whether to allow the move to Hamilton before the franchise was sold. However, the NHL claimed there was no way it could reach a decision on whether to allow the move in time for the 2009-10 season. The day after the hearing, Balsillie spokesman Rich Rodier told Arizona Republic Coyotes beat writer Jim Gintonio that Balsillie was willing to keep the team in Phoenix for the 2009-10 season, provided that the NHL fund any losses.

The other three major North American sports organizations have filed amicus curiae briefs supporting the NHL position. They argued that if Baum forced the league to move the Coyotes, it would "disrupt the business" of professional sports. New York's two Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also wrote Baum to oppose the move on the grounds that a Hamilton-based team would do severe economic harm to the Sabres. Although Hamilton is usually reckoned as part of the Toronto market, it also falls within the Sabres' protected market, as it is only 45 miles from Buffalo.

On June 15, Baum ruled against the proposal, stating that the timeline imposed by Balsillie was unrealistic and did not provide enough time for the courts or the NHL to wade through the issues posed by the relocation. Baum also rejected the proposal in part due to the fact that Balsillie's offer did not include any relocation fee to the NHL, to which they would be entitled since southern Ontario is potentially a more lucrative market than Phoenix. In the ruling, the judge also dismissed claims made by Moyes and Balsillie's lawyers that the NHL was violating antitrust laws in not allowing the move. The ruling effectively ends any chance of the Coyotes moving for the 2009-10 season.

On August 13, 2009, Judge Baum ordered the NHL to hand over documents regarding the Coyotes' relocation.

Baum's ruling did not rule out Balsillie as an NHL franchise owner. Balsillie has indicated that he intends to continue bidding on the team in spite of the failure of his first offer. The NHL has indicated a desire to hold an auction in September to find a new owner for the team, indicating that the auction would be open to prospective owners who would keep the team in Arizona, and stated that at least four potential buyers had been identified. The league had also indicated a willingness to hold a second auction, open to relocation, if the team could not be sold in the planned September auction. On July 9, the Court set two auction dates for the team. The first auction on August 20, will be the primary auction with the stipulation that whoever has the winning bid, must agree to keep the team in Phoenix for at least 5 years, after which they may relocate with league approval at any time. An undisclosed minimum bid must be met in this auction. Should this auction fail, the second auction on September 10, will be run with no minimum bid; in which the new owner will have the right and authority to move the team to another location at any time without league approval after the 2009-10 season. Balsillie has said that he is willing to keep the team in Phoenix for the time being and intends to bid in the August auction.

On September 6, 2009, it was reported by the Toronto Star that the NHL set a potential relocation fee of $101 million to $195 million to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontario, while economics professor Andrew Zimbalist in a study conducted for James Balsillie valued the move at $11.2 million to $12.9 million. On September 7, 2009, Balsillie had reportedly sweetened his offer by US$40–50 million to buy out the lease of the Glendale Arena.

On September 9, 2009, it was reported that Jerry Reinsdorf & Ice Edge LLC had dropped its bid for the Coyotes, leaving only Balsillie and the NHL as bidders for the team. It was announced on September 24 that Wayne Gretzky stepped down as head coach.

Judge Baum rejected both bids on September 29, 2009. This effectively ends any chance of a forced sale to Balsillie and relocating the Coyotes to Canada. However, the NHL's bid was criticized for its failure to repay Moyes and Gretzky, two of the largest creditors, though the league has a chance to improve its bid. While Balsillie's bid treated both as full creditors, the NHL promised Moyes only about $14 million of his claimed losses of $104 million, which would be shared with Gretzky who has a claim of about $22 million.

On October 26, 2009, Jerry Moyes reached a deal to sell the Coyotes to the NHL for $140 million. “It remains the NHL’s intention upon taking control of the club, to stabilize the club’s operations and, as quickly as possible, to resell the club to a new owner who is committed to operating the club in the Glendale/Phoenix market,” said Bill Daly. The sale was made official on November 3, 2009.

Team information


The Coyotes updated their jerseys for the 2007–08 season, along with all NHL teams, as part of the switchover to Rbk Edge jerseys. The changes made were adding an NHL crest just below the neck opening, removing the stripes that were previously just above the lower hem, and moving the "PHX" patch from the right to the left shoulder. The white jersey also gained red shoulder coloring and laces at the collar.

The Coyotes also added a third jersey for the 2008-2009 season. It is primarily black and features a new alternate coyote logo on the front, with the primary logo (coyote head) patch on the left shoulder, and the "Official Seal" on the right.


Howler is the coyote-suited mascot of the Phoenix Coyotes. He was introduced on October 15, 2005. Howler has his own website dedicated to his Kids Club - [11235].

Season-by-season record

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Coyotes. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Phoenix Coyotes seasons

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Records as of April 13, 2009.

Season GP W L OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
2004–05 Season cancelled due to 2004–05 NHL lockout
2005–06 82 38 39 5 81 246 271 1493 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2006–07 82 31 46 5 67 216 284 1417 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2007–08 82 38 37 7 83 214 231 1175 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
2008–09 82 36 39 7 79 208 252 1056 4th, Pacific Did not qualify

Notable players

Current roster

Team captains

Note: This list does not include captains from the Winnipeg Jets (NHL & WHA).

Hall of Famers

Retired numbers

  • 9 Bobby Hull, LW, 1972–80, number retired by Winnipeg on February 19, 1989; Hull's #9 was unretired briefly upon his request at the beginning of the 2005–06 season for his son, Brett, before he retired five games into the season.
  • 10 Dale Hawerchuk, C, 1981–90, number retired by Phoenix on April 5, 2007.
  • 25 Thomas Steen, RW, 1981–95, number retired by Winnipeg on May 6, 1995.
  • 99 Wayne Gretzky, head coach 2005–09, number retired league-wide February 6, 2000.

The Coyotes continue to honor the retired numbers of the Winnipeg Jets franchise, and are the only relocated WHA team to do so; the banners for Hull and Steen at Arena are in the Jets' blue, white and red. Furthermore, Hawerchuk and Steen both played for the Jets well before the move to Arizona.

First-round draft picks

Note: This list does not include selections of the Winnipeg Jets.
*The 1996 NHL Draft took place on June 22, and the Jets did not become the Coyotes until July 1, making Focht and Briere the two final first round selections of the Winnipeg Jets.

Franchise scoring leaders

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise (Winnipeg and Phoenix) history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season, last updated 2008/09.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Coyotes player

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Dale Hawerchuk C 713 379 550 929 1.30
Thomas Steen RW 950 264 553 817 .86
Keith Tkachuk LW 640 323 300 623 .97
Shane Doan* RW 967 258 365 623 .64
Teppo Numminen D 1098 108 426 534 .49
Paul MacLean RW 527 248 270 518 .98
Doug Smail LW 691 189 208 397 .58
Laurie Boschman LW 526 152 227 379 .72
Jeremy Roenick C 384 141 210 351 .91
Morris Lukowich LW 431 168 177 345 .80

NHL awards and trophies

Jack Adams Award

Franchise records


See also


  1. Burnside, Scott. Balsillie again takes wrong approach. ESPN, 2009-05-06.
  2. Phoenix Coyotes File for Bankruptcy
  4. Balsillie offers $212.5M to bring Coyotes to Ontario
  5. [1]
  6. [2]
  7. On air speculation of legal advisors, and sports broadcasters, the Fan 590, CJCL
  8. McKenzie, Bob. Situation with Coyotes will be messy. The Sports Network, 2009-05-06.
  9. NHL statement regarding takeover of Coyotes
  10. (
  11. [3]
  12. [4]
  15. [5]
  20. [6]
  21. Toronto Star "NHL appraisers hike up Coyotes relocation fee"

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