Kukla's Korner

Entries with the tag: phoenix coyotes

A Tiny Sign of Life

Since I’m on the west coast and I watch a lot of Pacific Division match-ups, I’ve had the opportunity to catch a variety of Phoenix Coyotes games throughout the season. Normally, this wouldn’t mean too much but it does allow me to get snapshots of how the Phoenix market is trending without getting involved on a fan level. I think we’ve all seen the pictures from early on when an announced crowd of 8,000 really seemed like about half of that. You could pause the game and literally count the number of people in a section. It was pretty brutal, to say the least.

Since the Coyotes’ ownership situation has stabilized somewhat, I’ve noticed my look-ins on the Coyotes have gradually changed in that you can actually see people in the crowd. Some games have more than others, and certainly many people are wearing the opposition’s sweaters, but butts in the seats still means butts in the seats. Here are the reported attendance figures for a 3+ week period:

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: attendance, phoenix+coyotes

Demographics, Not Hockey

With the Ice Edge group on the brink of purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes, small details have begun to be revealed about the fine print, such as apparent games in Saskatchewan, a retooled lease, and (currently denied) rumors of escape clauses to Quebec City or Winnipeg.

If this is the only way the NHL could get a buyer, then I suppose these concessions makes sense. Will Ice Edge give the team a genuine go in Glendale or will this be a true Major League scenario, where Shane Doan is traded for a player from the Slovakian prison system? (“I’ve never heard of half of these guys.” “This guy is dead!” “Cross him off the list then!”)

The thing is, as brutal as this season’s attendance has been for the Coyotes, it’s unfair to judge the market solely on that snapshot. During the Jeremy Roenick/Keith Tkachuk years, the team was actually doing decent at American West Arena—despite the obstructed view section in the upper deck. Years of putting out an awful product will have that impact on a market. (Even Canadian teams; see the 1995-96 Oilers attendance when the team went four years without making the playoffs.) What matters now is what happens after the team consistently wins.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: phoenix+coyotes

Maloney: “With a big season, we will make up for all the unrest…”

Last week, I interviewed Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney about a few different topics, such as where his young players stand, why Olli Jokinen didn’t work out, what he expects this year. You know, the usual things you’d ask a GM.

Oh, and that whole bankruptcy/auction thing.

While you wait for Friday’s court hearings result (and the inevitable continuation as A) nothing gets decided or B) someone appeals a decision), check out my Q&A with Maloney, along with my related article on Fox Sports (Update: Link is active as of 10 AM PST).

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Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: don+maloney, phoenix+coyotes

Jim Balsillie’s Flaming Bag o’ Dog Poop

James Mirtle dug up a little thing about Jim Balsillie’s followers being prompted to spam Gary Bettman’s inbox. During this whole process—heck, even going back to when Balsillie tried to buy the Predators—I kept wondering how a guy who’s obviously really freakin’ smart in one way could be so dumb in another.

Or maybe not dumb, but petty, impatient, and childish. This “Spam Bettman” campaign is the virtual equivalent of toilet-papering the NHL offices (or perhaps the good ol’ flaming bag of dog poop). Annoying, attention-getting, but ultimately fruitless.

Jim, listen to me. What you’re doing is a collective waste of time. Bettman and the Board of Governors don’t bend to spam campaigns, online petitions, or public begging and pleading. How many online petitions did we see during the lockout? Heck, even local mayors got involved with letter-writing campaigns to beg and plead their part about how NHL games boost the local economy. What did that get them? Absolutely nothing.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: jim+balsillie, phoenix+coyotes

“I’m hungry and have to pee.”

That direct quote is from the poor soul who is stuck in a Phoenix courtroom. The full quote: “This is going non stop. I’m hungry and have to pee.”

Earlier, the boss pointed out that Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star was liveblogging the court hearing regarding the neverending Balsillie v. NHL battle. Now for us hockey fans, waiting until the puck drop for a game where Lord Stanley might be handed out is bad enough as it is. Now try imagining that wait while sitting through a court session where lawyers make petty arguments against each other.

What’s happened so far? Um…not a lot. In fact, between 1:30 PM and 2:45 PM (Arizona time), McGran had a total of five updates: one indicating he made a post on the Toronto Star’s website, one talking about the endless lawyer debates, one on his need to eat and relieve himself, and two—count them, two—on actual court happenings.

Perhaps the judge himself summed it up best: “If this is an endurance contest, I’ll concede.” Hang in there, Kevin; your diligence is much appreciated.

Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: jim+balsillie, phoenix+coyotes

Even Canadian Attendance Dips When Teams Lose

From Gary Bettman’s State of the League presser before Game 1:

We believe that our franchises can all be successful where they’re currently located. And somebody could have asked me the same question that you just asked eight years ago about the Canadian franchises. They could have said; ‘Why do you have any franchises other than Toronto or Montreal?’ eight or ten years ago, because the buildings in all the other places were two-thirds to half empty.

Well, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration…but it’s not totally false. Though perhaps Bettman got his tongue tied and meant that the buildings were 2/3 full to half empty. A 2/3 empty building is pretty freakin’ empty.

Andrew’s Stars Page has attendance numbers dating back to the 1980s, and you can see that Canadian strongholds Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver went through their own lean stretches. As with most attendance woes, a lot of this was based on performance. Even for the most die-hard hockey fan, it’s hard to consistently shell out cash for a crappy product.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: attendance, calgary+flames, edmonton+oilers, phoenix+coyotes, vancouver+canucks

Phoenix Coyotes: The Movie

All this talk about the Phoenix Coyotes and legal documents and lawyer arguments is making my head hurt (though I’m not free of blame as I’ve written about it quite a bit both on posts and comments). I think we all need to take a step back and look at it from a slightly lighter perspective.

Presenting Phoenix Legal, a new dramatic interpretation of the real-life courtroom battle unfolding in front of us starring Patrick Stewart, Bruce Campbell, William Shatner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the dudes from Office Space. It’s kind of like when E! had actors re-enact the Michael Jackson trial in semi-real time, except with movie clips.

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Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: gary+bettman, jim+balsillie, phoenix+coyotes, wayne+gretzky

“Make It Seven” Is PR Spin, Not Nationalism

For both supporters of both sides regarding the Jim Balsillie/Phoenix Coyotes debate, there’s one point I kindly ask you to drop. It’s a major sticking point, a PR agenda, but ultimately it’s nothing but empty jingoism. So please, drop any sort of national interests in this because while Balsillie’s PR team has cleverly wrapped up his intent in the Canadian flag, it ultimately has nothing to do with nationalism.

Think of it this way. When the Ottawa Senators were in financial trouble back in 2002, scuttlebutt had Balsillie ready to catch the proverbial ball if Eugene Melnyk’s group dropped it. If this whole thing was about Balsillie trying to “make it seven,” wouldn’t he bypass the opportunity to purchase a Canadian franchise and stick with trying to relocate an American one? When I asked Balsillie’s team about this very notion, they didn’t answer the question. Instead, they just said that they didn’t want to talk about the past and they wanted to focus on the current venture.

Fair enough. But by avoiding that issue, Balsillie’s team failed to really refute that argument and, in a way, cement their nationalistic argument. Sidestepping it pulls the curtain back on the Wizard of Blackberry.

And really, his true intentions are nothing to be terribly ashamed about. He simply wants to own a team from his favorite sport in his backyard. He’s a billionaire, so he’s got every right to do that. It’s his execution that’s flawed, arrogant, and screams more of an attention-getting brat than a clever businessman.

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Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: jim+balsillie, phoenix+coyotes

Balsillie’s Team Answers

Yesterday, I asked readers to let me know what questions they’d like to ask the spokesman for Jim Balsillie’s Make It Seven team. Here’s what he had to say.

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Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: jim+balsillie, phoenix+coyotes

Ask (The Spokesman For) Jim Balsillie

Last night, I got an email from the folks behind Make It Seven —the official website of Jim Balsillie’s efforts to bring the Phoenix Coyotes to Canada. I’ve asked if they’d be open to taken questions from readers both for and against the move, and they’ve agreed.

So, whether you want the Coyotes to stay in Phoenix or you want Shane Doan and company to head up past the border, if you have questions for Jim Balsillie’s team (note that Balsillie himself will not be answering it; instead, all communication will be coming from Bill Walker, his spokesman for this initiative), leave it in the comments below. Mr. Walker won’t be able to answer all of them, and given the nature of the situation, we may just get PR spin on the whole thing, but let’s gather your pro and con questions and see what happens.

Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: jim+balsillie, phoenix+coyotes

First Of The Gang To Die

(Bonus points if you got the reference in the post title)

Stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done.

We’ve talked for so long about how the Western Conference was filled with a tight race where all 15 teams could make the playoffs. About a week ago, I proposed that if the Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes didn’t get at least seven points in their next five games, they’d be out.

A few losses later, you can count the Western Conference now as the Magnificent 13.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: colorado+avalanche, morrissey, olli+jokinen, phoenix+coyotes

A Little Separation?

Just a little while ago, I spent some blog space talking about how I could watch any game in the Western Conference right now because the races were so tight. Well today, I’m thinking that we’re quickly getting to the write-off point. I’ll give the Phoenix Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche five games to turn it around (“turn it around” = seven out of ten possible points or better).

For Colorado, I don’t think anyone’s that surprised. Suspect goaltending, injuries, a spotty defense, and an overall lack of depth generally amounts to bad news. However, the total collapse of the Coyotes is pretty remarkable. Right before the All-Star Game, the Yotes seemed to have their groove on and had a nice hold on sixth place. Losing half a dozen in a row can quickly destroy any sense of hope. The strange thing is that as Phoenix has gotten healthier, their play has gotten worse. When your top power play unit has Shane Doan, Olli Jokinen, Peter Mueller, Ed Jovanovski, and Derek Morris, it shouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as it has been lately.

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Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: colorado+avalanche, phoenix+coyotes, standings

What’s Motivating The Coyotes?

You might have noticed that those pesky Phoenix Coyotes have risen up the standings and now have a precarious hold on a playoff spot. A big part of this is their recent surge in play, coupled with win-one-lose-one patterns of the Nashville Predators and the free fall of the Minnesota Wild.

But I know the truth. It’s not just Ilya Bryzgalov returning to form or the emergence of Martin “He’s So Hot Right Now” Hanzel or the leadership of Shane Doan.

No, Don Maloney motivated the Yotes with this simple threat: play well or Gretzky leaves and you get coached by this guy. (Sorry for not getting the embedded video, I could only find a link.)

Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: phoenix+coyotes

Gretzky, Maloney, and One Fan’s Perspective

Just a quick follow up to this post, here’s a transcript of my email Q&A with Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky, GM Don Maloney, and Coyotes blogger Paul Becker of One Fan’s Perspective

Phoenix Coach Wayne Gretzky
Q: Once you got Ilya Bryzgalov, did you approach your team’s defensive
scheme differently?

A: “With the acquisition of Bryzgalov, we didn’t really change our defensive philosophy.  But his play certainly gave his teammates confidence to play at the best of their abilities.”

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: marketing, phoenix+coyotes, wayne+gretzky

Gretzky, Maloney Lead Coyotes Resurgence

(Note: This is the unedited version of my original column for FoxSports.com posted here. As you can see, they cut a bit for length purposes, but I’m posting the original here. Also, I will be posting a compiled Q&A with Gretzky, Maloney, and blogger Paul Becker either later today or tomorrow.)

Perhaps it’s appropriate that the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise has had both jets and coyotes as their mascot. After all, the Winnipeg Jets flew down to Arizona, springing back to life – like a phoenix, of course – with Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk as ambassadors into an untapped marketplace. During that team, the franchise survived Keith Tkachuk’s contract demands, Brett Hull’s blink-and-you-miss-it tenure, an arena where part of the upper deck couldn’t see the whole ice, and a team logo that appeared to be half coyote and half Predator (the kind Schwarzenegger fought, not the Nashville kind).

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: don+maloney, phoenix+coyotes, wayne+gretzky

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