What's in a name? The switch to the Arizona Coyotes

Jeff Gross

For a long while it has seemed like the Phoenix Coyotes will be renamed the Arizona Coyotes as soon as ownership was settled. Anthony LeBlanc and the Phoenix Coyotes Twitter account have repeatedly stated that name change won't occur until the 2014-15 season; but it will happen. The change is causing some mixed feelings among Coyotes fans.

Why It Makes Sense

The name change, in many ways, signifies a phoenix-like rebirth; a fresh team with new ownership to wash away the past few seasons of being owned by the NHL. While there are a lot of great memories of the team from those years, it will be a long while before anyone forgets that the Phoenix Coyotes were the NHL team without an owner for four years. A change to the team's name will not carry that same baggage and makes sense.

Additionally, the name "Arizona" will hopefully encourage more fans from all over the state, not just the valley, to embrace the hockey team. This isn't unprecedented either, the Arizona Cardinals were known as the Phoenix Cardinals from 1988-1993, they weren't even playing in Phoenix at the time. When the Arizona Diamondbacks were established, it's been said that Jerry Colangelo wanted the team to represent the state so he decided against naming them the Phoenix Diamondbacks. The Coyotes definitely draw fans from outside of Phoenix, and it seems appropriate to encourage fan participation from other cities with a name that better reflects that goal.

From a pure business standpoint, the deal makes a lot of sense because a new name can lead to new merchandising opportunities. With a name change, we expect new jerseys, sooner or later, and increased merchandise sales that will help the new owners run the business. LeBlanc also mentioned in his interview that he is looking to increase the payroll for the team, specifically he mentioned going up to $55 million for next season, and fans buying team products helps their bottom line.

The Complaints

The majority of complaints against the name change seem to be twofold. People either don't like state or providence named teams or they think that "Phoenix Coyotes" sounds better.

While it's true more teams are named after cities then not, there are still plenty of teams named after the state they reside in. The Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, and New York Islanders all take their names from their state rather than their city (the New York Rangers actually play in New York City so I did not include them, the Islanders currently play in Uniondale and will be playing Brooklyn so they are included.)

It's possible that the reason "Phoenix Coyotes" sounds better to certain fans is because it's what everyone is used to calling them. In time, Fans will get used to calling them the Arizona Coyotes and it will sound just as natural. How weird would it sound if you saw the Coyotes were playing games against the Denver Avalanche, the St. Paul Wild, the Sunrise Panthers, the Raleigh Hurricanes or the Uniondale Islanders? Once fans get used to the name, it will seem as normal as it ever was.

Final Thoughts

It's also important to note this is something that is going to happen, and has to happen for the team to stay. Both this deal and the previous Jamison deal had this caveat and if it's the price fans have to pay for an owner and stability, it's an incredibly small one. So while people have differing opinions on it, it is something that will happen, and has to happen.

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