Avoiding 12 Straight: Stories for the Coyotes in Winnipeg

Credit: John Woods / AP

It’s always heated when the Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes clash, but Sunday’s matchup will host a different type of heat.

The Coyotes are amidst a franchise record-setting 11-game losing skid with rumors floundering around the club about the future of their home in the desert, as well as stories surrounding the team’s conditional release of Adam Ružička and the questions around the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline.

The Jets are in a boat that has been long awaited to set sail – issues with attendance in a once revived Canadian market. Sitting in the middle of the rush to the Stanley Cup Playoffs at second in the Central Division, the Jets have split their first eight games since the All-Star break with five wins and three losses.

SHAKING A RECORD-BREAKING LOSING SKID IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE

Franchise record-setting streaks are normally for the better (i.e., the Rangers now have a 10 game winning streak), but the Coyotes sit in an unusual spot.

Since their last three before the All-Star break, a back-to-back with Florida and Tampa Bay, and a matchup in the path of the storm in North Carolina with the Hurricanes, the Coyotes have yet to win a hockey game since the second half of the season began now sitting at 11 consecutive losses, the longest streak in franchise history according to records.nhl.com.

As if insult needed to be added to injury, in that span, the Coyotes have allowed opponents to score at least five goals in seven games.

The staple was a blown win, turned loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena on February 18th, that then led to the Edmonton Oilers holding them off and the Toronto Maple Leafs keeping the Coyotes at bay despite a close game through the first two periods.

ALEX MERUELO WANTS TO BUILD HIS ARENA

After an embarrassment to the team’s plans to purchase the land in Tempe, currently owned by the city for a landfill, that went to public vote, it’s been a long and winding road for the club to find new land to build an arena on and the fight seems to be everlong.

Currently, there is land owned by the State of Arizona that will soon be set to an auction that, as Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Guttierez said on local radio show Bickley and Marotta, the Coyotes are “sure” they “will have the highest bid” in.

On this land, not only is it not going to be subject to a vote for the people, but it also allows the organization to build housing, retail, and team facilities similar to that of what was planned to be built in Tempe, all while still being able to fund it privately.

The land is a site along Interstate 101 near Scottsdale road, geographically pinned to be in North Phoenix, per Craig Morgan and PHNX Coyotes.

RUŽIČKA’S RELEASE AND TERMINATION

Just a month removed from the Coyotes capturing Ružička after the Calgary Flames waived him, it was announced on Friday that the team had moved to have Ružička waived with plans to have his contract terminated.

Rǔzicka was released from the team following the posting of a video to the forward’s Instagram story in which Ružička appeared to be consuming a white powdery substance, assumed to be an illegal substance.

THE NHL TRADE DEADLINE

The trade deadline is the time of year that the Coyotes seem to have the most rumors swirling in past years, most notably in the last few seasons when Jakob Chychrun was the hot commodity on the market.

This season, less than normal, rumors seem to be less prevalent, but the idea is that the Coyotes are going to purge their list of unrestricted free agents come season’s end, including veteran forward brought in on a one-year deal Jason Zucker, veteran defensemen Josh Brown and Matt Dumba, as well as Liam O’Brien, Troy Stecher and Travis Boyd, all three of which were listed on injured reserve as of February 25th (via CapFriendly.com).

Per Frank Vatrano with TSN’s top 50 trade bait list (dated February 21st), Dumba is listed 24th, and Zucker is listed 39th.

WINNIPEG’S DWINDLING ATTENDANCE

This season, there has been a serious and noticeable decline in attendance for Winnipeg home games. What is normally a loud, electric, and difficult environment for visiting teams to play in has been less of what it’s known to be due to a shortcoming in fan turnout at the Canada Life Centre, the NHL’s smallest permanent arena, with a max capacity of 15,225.

This season, per hockeydb.com, the Jets have the second lowest average attendance,13,098, with the Coyotes leading at 4,600, the capacity of Mullett Arena.

13,098 is the second lowest average number in recent years for the franchise, with the most recent lowest being 12,716 in the 2021-22 season.

Winnipeg is the first stop on a five-game road trip for the Coyotes that spans eight days.

James Mackey

Credentialed Writer Covering the Arizona Coyotes

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