Posted on: August 26, 2009 6:50 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2009 6:52 pm

Dear Hockey Fans in "Traditional" Markets

Dear Hockey Fans in traditional makets,

I am writing to request that you discontinue your aspersions against the Coyotes and the hockey fans of Arizona.  There have been many unpropitious decisions and circumstances that have led the team to their current situation. I feel that when you state that Phoenix is not a viable hockey market it is inaccurate. 

The team was fourth in operating expenses despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the league.  The average NHL coach makes about $1 million a year while Wayne Gretzky makes seven times that amount, all for having a sub .500 coaching record and no playoff appearances. It is a poorly run franchise, both on and off the ice.  The financial situation they are in cannot be summed up simply by saying Phoenix does not support hockey. 

Please see the below examples of teams that are in traditional hockey markets and have also had financial problems.  These teams have all been in their markets much longer than the 12 years the Coyotes have been in Phoenix, and have all had much more success than the Coyotes’ handful of playoff appearances and no advances past the first round.

The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the league in 1967 and had won two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 prior to filing bankruptcy in 1998.  They also had previously filed bankruptcy in 1975.

The Ottawa Senators entered the league in 1992 and filed for bankruptcy in 2003 despite having success on the ice.

The Buffalo Sabres entered the league in 1970 and also filed for bankruptcy in 2003.  The Sabres had made the playoffs every year from 1995 to 2000.  Their average home attendance in 2003 was 13,776.

The New York Islanders came into the league in 1972 and have had one of hockey’s greatest dynasties winning four Stanly cups between 1980-83.  They have made the playoffs 21 times, with their most recent appearance being 2007.  Although they have a proud history they have lost $208.8 million in nine years, including $33.5 million last year.  They also ranked last in attendance for the 2008-09 season.

I will admit that the Coyotes’ attendance has been exiguous recently; however they are not alone in having empty seats. Poor attendance does not discriminate between hot and cold climates.

Below are teams that are based in traditional markets, or in the case of the St. Louis Blues have been in the league over 40 years, and have ranked in the bottom 10 teams in attendance during recent years.

2001, Bruins, Blackhawks, Islanders
2002, Calgary Flames, Penguins, Blackhawks, Bruins, Islanders
2003, Bruins, Islanders, Devils, Blackhawks, Penguins, Sabres
2004, Bruins, Devils, Capitals, Islanders, Blackhawks, Penguins (last place, average 11,877)
2006, Devils, Blues, Capitals, Blackhawks, Islanders (last place, average 12,609)
2007, Boston, Devils, Capitals, Islanders, Blackhawks, Blues
2008, Devils, Capitals, Bruins, Islanders
2009, Devils, Avalanche, Islanders

I hope that you will realize that poor attendance and finacial failure cannot be directly attibuted the the weather outside.  Bankruptcies and empty seats have plagued teams throughout the continent regardless of the teams time in existence, country, or past success. 


Arizona Hockey Fans.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com