Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Which Arizona relocation options would have the biggest impact on the Vancouver Canucks?
6 months ago
Yes, these are indeed the dog days of summer.
So, what better time to talk about the desert dogs themselves, the Arizona Coyotes?
Or, at least that’s what we’re calling them for now. And for the 2023/24 season, during which the Coyotes have confirmed they’ll be staying in Tempe’s Mullett Arena.
After that, however, all bets are off. But perhaps that’s the wrong phrase to use, because some folks are definitely taking action on where the Coyotes are most likely to move to, enough so that we’ve been able to cobble together a list of likely destinations.
But this is, after all, CanucksArmy, and we only tangentially care about Arizonz. So, today we’re looking at each of those potential future homes of the Coyotes through the lens of which of them would have the biggest impact on the Vancouver Canucks.
Salt Lake City Coyotes
What many are calling the most likely destination for the Coyotes is also one of the least impactful on the Canucks.
In moving to Salt Lake City, the Coyotes would be headed just about ten hours due north. That means that their time zone would stay the same, except during daylight saving time. More relevant to hockey, that means that the Coyotes would stay in the Central Division, a little closer to their own divisional rivals and a shorter trip from Vancouver.
It’s also typically a lot less fun to visit Utah than it is Arizona. Other than that, the Canucks wouldn’t notice much of a difference in this swap.
Houston is the biggest American city without an NHL team, and rumours have been swirling for literal decades. This time around, the Coyotes would be headed more than 1000 miles southeast into the far reaches of Texas, but it still wouldn’t constitute that grand of a shuffling.
The Coyotes would hop a whole time zone but stay within the Central Division alongside new neighbour Dallas.
Really, this move would be excellent for the Coyotes themselves, who would be far closer to all their Central Division rivals, save Colorado. All it means from a Canucks perspective, however, is an even longer road trip than usual; although the possibility for two-game swings through Texas does hold some appeal.
Kansas City Coyotes
The former home of the Scouts is an ideal destination for the Coyotes, travel-wise. They’d stay in the Central Division and most closer to literally every team in that division, as well as taking some serious edge off all their eastern road trips.
For the Canucks, a trip to Kansas City is a lot less desirable, but no lengthier than a trip to Arizona. All this really does is further isolate the Pacific Division teams in their own little Pacific seaboard, but that was largely already the case.
Oklahoma City Coyotes
We only bring Oklahoma City up because it still gets mentioned as a potential relocation location, but we’ve got nothing new to add here. Oklahoma City is pretty much equidistant between Kansas City and Houston, so it’s an even blend of what those cities would bring. The Coyotes stay in the Central, the Canucks get a slightly longer trip, and the games come on earlier, but that’s about it as far as noticeable changes.
Sacramento/San Francisco/Oakland Coyotes
We’re lumping these Californian destinations together because they’re all within about an hour-and-a-half of one another. Locals will let you know that only San Francisco and Oakland are considered part of the “Bay Area,” but Sacramento is close enough for a Canadian to barely understand the distinction.
Either way, such a westward move would mean big changes for the Coyotes (and the Canucks). In moving to California, they’d almost certainly have to slide into the Pacific Division alongside San Jose, Anaheim, and Los Angeles. And since the divisions are perfectly balanced at eight teams apiece, that almost certainly means that someone else is getting kicked out of the Pacific.
Who? It doesn’t take too long a glance at a map to determine that it’s going to be the Vegas Golden Knights.
Ditching the Knights and replacing them with the Coyotes is a net-benefit to the Canucks’ chances of making the playoffs for the considerable future. It also probably reduces travel for Vancouver, adding one more team to the traditional Californian gauntlet and ensuring that more Canucks’ games are on at 7:00PM PST.
There are a lot of positives for the Canucks to glean from the California Coyotes.
San Diego Coyotes
The move from Tempe to San Diego would be the shortest for the Coyotes; just about five hours and 360 miles west. But it would still entail all the changes we mentioned in the section above, including a move to the Pacific Division and a general grouping-in with the other Californian teams.
One notable attribute of a San Diego franchise would be the potential for visiting teams to spend off-days south of the border in Tijuana. That sounds like trouble waiting to happen, but if it means fewer trips to Vegas each year for Pacific teams, it probably all balances out in the end.
The relocation of the Coyotes could become a re-location of the Thrashers, if recent rumours are to be believed. Would the third time be the charm for NHL hockey in Atlanta? Who knows?
Such a move would greatly disrupt the league in general, but not the Canucks. It would put the Coyotes right on the dividing line between the Eastern and Western Conferences, and that might put either Detroit or Columbus in danger of being swapped back to the West.
Or, the Coyotes could just stay in the Central, as awkward an arrangement as that might be.
For the Canucks, the travel differences are negligible, and any Atlanta trips could be conveniently grouped with Nashville, St. Louis, and Chicago games.
It’s a longshot based on population and existing infrastructure, sure. But Portland is the absolutely ideal ultimate destination for the Coyotes, at least from the purely selfish perspective of the Vancouver Canucks and their fans.
The Portland Coyotes come into the Pacific Division, booting out the Vegas Golden Knights to go bother somebody else. They make it so that the whole division, except for those Alberta weirdos, are in the same time zone. And they singlehandedly bring down the travel-load of the Canucks, still one of the worst in the league even with Seattle now in the mix.
Speaking of Seattle, with a Portland franchise added, we’ve now got a nice little well-stocked geographic corner of the NHL map, where a few years ago Vancouver once stood alone. The possibilities for rivalry are fun, sure, but the practicalities are also exciting.
Portland is far enough away to not provide any sort of threat to Vancouver’s market, just a whole lot of convenience and fun. Is there a better three-game road trip in the league than Vancouver, Seattle, Portland? We think not.
We couldn’t leave this one without at least mentioning Quebec, even though we all know this isn’t going to happen. If the NHL ever deigns to return to Quebec, it’ll do so only after extracting a hefty expansion fee.
But it’s fun to dream. The Quebec Coyotes bring the total number of Canadian franchises up to eight, it hopefully brings a little baby blue back into the league, and it totally screws up the divisional alignment. Again, we imagine that Detroit or Columbus (probably Columbus) gets booted back to the Western Conference and everything gets shaken out from there.
This is perhaps the funnest option, but also one of the ones that has the least impact on the Vancouver Canucks.
Which, in the end, is really all that matters.
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