After news broke that the Arizona Coyotes will need to find a new arena after the upcoming season, could they be headed out of the desert? Quebec City's Videotron Centre puts them among the favourites to land the embattled franchise after the 2021-22 season.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Arizona Coyotes are having major arena issues and face a very uncertain future.
After the announcement that the city of Glendale, Arizona has broken off negotiations on the Coyotes’ lease for Gila River Arena after next season, the struggling franchise is searching for a new home, yet again. Although the team insists they are committed to staying in Arizona, there’s no guarantee that happens.
Where will the Coyotes call home in 2022-23? Sports Interaction’s NHL Props has your most likely destinations.
Commissioner Gary Bettman’s legacy on the league will be the NHL’s expansion into the southern United States. You can be assured he won’t let this team leave Arizona without a fight. The question is, can they survive in Glendale, or will they focus on moving back to Phoenix?
The most likely destination in Arizona would be a return to the Footprint Center, which is home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. This is the same arena the Coyotes called home after they moved from Winnipeg in 1996, until the 2003-04 season. It’s much closer to downtown Phoenix and provides access to more fans. The arena has already proven it can handle a pro hockey team and would be the easiest transition from Gila River Arena.
The Coyotes could frame a move to the Footprint Center as a return to their roots, although their history in that building doesn’t exactly scream success.
If Bettman wants to stay in the southern U.S., Houston is the obvious choice. At a population of over 2 million people, Houston is the largest city in North America without an NHL franchise. The Toyota Center, home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, is already equipped to host a pro hockey team. The AHL’s Houston Aeros played at the arena from 2003-13 before moving to Iowa.
There’s also already established interest from an ownership group. As far back as 2017, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has expressed interest in adding an NHL franchise to the Toyota Center. At the time, Fertitta reportedly met with Bettman about his interest in filling the arena’s empty dates with an NHL team. It’s hard to see that interest completely evaporating in only four years.
Quebec City +400
Quebec City is the obvious choice if the NHL is willing to add another team in Canada. They fought hard to get the expansion team that eventually became the Vegas Golden Knights. The city even went so far as to fund half of a newly built NHL-calibre arena to entice the league. The Videotron Centre opened in 2015 and seats 18,259, despite the biggest tenant being the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.
This city has been desperate for NHL hockey since the Quebec Nordiques left in 1995 for Colorado (it probably didn’t help that the Avalanche immediately won a Stanley Cup the next season). The divisions would need to realign a bit, but with the last two expansion teams being added to the Western Conference, there’s also more availability to fit another team into the East.
If the Coyotes end up leaving, this could be a tossup between Quebec City and Houston. Oddsmakers give Houston the edge, but Quebec City has already proven it will fight hard for an NHL team.
Long Shot Destinations
Kansas City +2000
Sal Lake City +2000