The Phoenix Coyotes originally called their Home Winnipeg, where they were known as the Jets for seven seasons as a founding franchise of the World Hockey Association. As the most successful team during the league’s short life, winning their Avco World Trophy three times, and making the league’s finals five out of seven seasons. The financially struggling WHA joined the NHL as part of a merger in 1979.
Losing most of their good players during the initial draft into the league, the Jets struggled during their first two seasons, placing last in the league during their first two years, including a 1980-81 season with only nine wins, a franchise worst. The team recovered quickly the following seasons, however, and made the playoffs 11 times over the next 15 seasons, only to be knocked out of the playoffs during most of those years by their division mates, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
In the 1990′s, player salaries rose rapidly, and the Jets ran into financial troubles. The Winnipeg area was the smallest market in the NHL, and even with significant fan support, the Jets were purchased by Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo and other investors.
The company threw a contest to come up with the best names, with “Coyotes” winning, and during the 1996-97 season Arizona had its first hockey team. The team added Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk and Rick Tocchet to the roster, who led the team through their first seasons. The first five included six straight seasons at .500 or better with playoff seeding all but one of those years.
The team went through financial woes but was sold to Phoenix developer Steve Ellman and Wayne Gretzky. The team struggled on the ice as well as financially, and in 2005 Wayne Gretzky was named head coach of the team, though he had never coached before. Gretzky’s coaching did little to help the team and in 2009 he stepped down and word had come around that the NHL was directly financing the Coyotes.
In recent years, the Coyotes have made the playoffs two-straight years only to be defeated by the Detroit Red Wings, and have broken the 100 point mark for the first time in franchise history. Things might just be looking up for your favorite Arizona team.