Out with Phoenix, and in with Arizona, the Coyotes announced on Wednesday morning.
The move makes a load of sense for an ownership group attempting to make a non-traditional hockey market work; the idea is that fans would be more willing to drive from all over the state to support something that represents Arizona, rather than just Phoenix.
The “Phoenix” Coyotes was already something of a misnomer. Jobing.com Arena isn’t in Phoenix, but about 20 minutes northwest in Glendale. The team played at US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix until 2003, but didn’t change the name to correspond with the move.
Said co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc in a statement:
“We are very excited to announce that our franchise name will change to the Arizona Coyotes for the start of the 2014-15 NHL season. 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. 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.”
The name change was alluded to as far back as August when the team was originally sold to IceArizona, but this is the first official announcement. LeBlanc and partner George Gosbee have been active in making the long term prospects of the Coyotes in Glendale as successful as possible, and this move helps with that.
One question surrounding the change was whether or not new jerseys would come with the change, opening up an extra revenue opportunity for the owners. A new shoulder patch will be added to the home and road sweaters, but no drastic jersey changes will accompany the new name.
After a convincing 3-0 win over rival Los Angeles on Tuesday to start the homestand, Arizona will host the Sabres on Thursday and the Penguins on Saturday.