Beyond The Benches

Phoenix Coyotes Ignite Hockey in Arizona

Ranked dead-last in gross attendance and second-last to Dallas in arena capacity percentage this season, the Phoenix Coyotes new owners have explored some creative marketing strategies to ignite their fans. One such strategy included adding Tim Horton’s coffee stands in the arena, as well as hosting CanadaFest – a concert featuring BTO, Trooper and Loverboy – to target Canadian fans in the area.

Originating from the north, the franchise has been known as the Phoenix Coyotes since 1996 when the Winnipeg Jets got taken over. The benefits of moving a team to a Canadian market is that attendance would be plentiful. In attempt to overcome attendance and past financial difficulties, the new Coyotes owners are working overtime to avoid a move back up north. Much of this effort can also be credited to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his goal to expand the Southwest market.

Successful results of this can be seen in the reflection of Arizona’s grassroots hockey where the state saw one of the biggest increases this past season. Statistics from USA Hockey found a total of 4,860 registered players, making an increase of 17.8% from 2012-2013. Keeping the Coyotes where they are in arena, helped do that.

Auston Matthews is a late 1997-birthday who hails from Scottsdale, Arizona and played midget hockey for the Arizona Bobcats. His quick development earned him a spot on the world under-18 team where he helped the U.S. win gold. Matthews was also named to Team USA’s summer world junior camp roster as the only 2016 prospect. Matthews leads the way for future up and coming hockey stars out of Arizona.

On January 29, the Phoenix Coyotes announced their name change that will be effective at the 2014 Entry Draft – the Arizona Coyotes. The change includes a new shoulder patch for their  jerseys in 2014-2015 that will be unveiled at the Coyotes’ first preseason game.

“Becoming the Arizona Coyotes makes sense for us since we play our games in Glendale and the city is such a great partner of ours,” President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc told “We also want to be recognized as not just the hockey team for Glendale or Phoenix, but the team for the entire state of Arizona and the Southwest. We hope that the name ‘Arizona’ will encourage more fans from all over the state, not just the valley, to embrace and support our team.”

In discussing the team’s future with Fox Sports’ Craig Morgan this week, LeBlanc gave realistic hope to fans that they will one day see their Coyotes in a postseason competitive position.

On Thursday, the soon-to-be Arizona Coyotes released their 2014 preseason schedule that will consist of eight games starting September 22 against fellow Pacific Division rivals, Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers.


Hillary McLeod is a soon-to-be public relations graduate and future sport management student. You can follow her on Twitter @hillary_mcleod.