Franchise instability, whether it’s a shaky ownership situation or a plethora of empty seats for home games, has fans in hockey hungry markets drooling over the prospect of relocation.
Fans in previously inhabited places like Quebec City and Kansas City anxiously await an expansion franchise or a team fallen on hard luck looking to relocate, and other locales like Seattle and Las Vegas are frequently mentioned as potential homes for NHL hockey. While nothing appears imminent, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has recently budged on his stance on expansion.
The Arizona Coyotes can’t seem to shake the ‘troubled franchise’ tag. It was just two months ago when reports surfaced linking Andrew Barroway to the Coyotes, and the hedge fund manager was set to acquire a 51 percent stake in the franchise.
Fast forward to today, and it’s Larry Brooks, who first reported the impending deal between Barroway and IceArizona, writing that the deal could be falling apart.
Remember how a few short weeks ago Andrew Barroway was on the verge of gaining majority control of the Coyotes, the news first reported by The Post? Not so fast, for now comes word from a plugged-in source that the deal appears to be falling apart, with Barroway seemingly on the verge of backing out.
Slap Shots has been told the current ownership has directed GM Don Maloney to shed payroll … which would mean stripping the club with the league’s third-lowest payroll into a bare-bones operation.
Who could be going in addition to Keith Yandle (at $5.2 million per season through next year)? Not Shane Doan? Not Oliver Ekman-Larsson? The equally pertinent question, though, is which will come first: the end of the NHL’s financial problems in the desert or the end of Coyotes?
The Coyotes reportedly shot down reports of Barroway backing out of the deal and Maloney being ordered to slash payroll.
What's an NHL season without rumours of the Coyotes ownership situation in a state of upheaval?
On a related note, the Coyotes opened up their Saturday night contest versus the Boston Bruins to a chorus of "Let's go Bruins," chants. Displaced fans cheering for visiting teams at Jobing.com Arena are commonplace. Still, it's got to sting a little bit more tonight for the locals who are actually invested in the home side.
...And in Florida
It's no secret that the Florida Panthers have had attendance problems this season, with shots of a nearly empty BB&T Center popping up on Twitter regularly. The Panthers rank dead last in the league in terms of average attendance (8,872), with just 52.1 percent of capacity per night.
Tough times for a couple of franchises in non-traditional markets.