| Sports |

How the NHL's Conference Realignment Will Impact the Average Arizonan: it Won't

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

The National Hockey League announced yesterday its plan to divide the league into four conferences rather than six divisions, as the league is currently arranged.

Under the new organization, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin inside each conference, with the top four teams squaring off in divisional playoffs (see how the new conferences will be organized below).

So how will the realignment impact the average Arizonan? It won't -- Arizonans are notoriously amongst the worst hockey fans in North America.

Last season, the Phoenix Coyotes had the second worst attendance record in the NHL -- only the New York Islanders had worse fan support.

The 2009-2010 season was even worse for the Howlers -- the Coyotes had the lowest attendance in the entire NHL, with an average of 11,989 fans per game.

The team, meanwhile, has made the playoffs the past two seasons, despite it's lack of a solid fan base and continued uncertainty over whether the team will remain in the Valley.

With the exception of two seasons -- the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons (when NHL icon Wayne Gretzky took over as coach) -- since 2004, the Coyotes have been amongst the five NHL teams with the worst attendance records. Even during the (gulp) good years, the Coyotes still were amongst the 10 NHL teams with the lousiest fans.

See all NHL attendance statistics here.

Despite Arizonans' apparent lack of interest in professional hockey, the NHL remains optimistic that it can turn desert dwellers into puck fans.

As you may know, the Coyotes franchise filed bankruptcy in 2009. Since then, the NHL has made several attempts to find a buyer for the team who's willing to keep the Coyotes in Glendale. The league's yet to find a buyer.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman this morning reaffirms that the league's goal is to keep the Coyotes in Arizona, despite the team's failure to make money in the desert.

"Our anticipation is this shouldn't go on and probably won't go on another year with us owning the club and the City of Glendale doing what it's doing to support the building with the Coyotes in there," Bettman told a reporter for the league-owned website, NHL.com. "But, you never know what is going to happen. Our hope continues to be it gets sold in the not too distant future to a buyer for Glendale."

In case you missed it -- and judging by this season's attendance, you probably have -- the Coyotes aren't having a bad season. With a record of 14-9, the team currently is tied for fourth place in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, with an average of 10,997 fans per home game for the 2011-2012 season, the Coyotes again have the worst attendance in the entire league.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.