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Phoenix Coyotes Roundtable: Should Arizona be awarded an outdoor NHL game?

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With talk of the Coyotes hosting an NHL game, the FFH crew discusses if the market deserves such a game and who the potential opponents could be.

Christopher Pasatieri
Should Arizona be awarded an outdoor game in the not-too-distant future?

Carl Putnam (Alpha): Absolutely. Why not? My guess is within the next five to ten years every franchise will either host and/or participate in an outdoor game given how the league has expanded things this season. In addition, the Phoenix area does a great job hosting large sporting events. The specific idea floating out there about hosting an outdoor game in conjunction during the 2015 Super Bowl week is an excellent idea.

Jaime Eisner: If the NHL continues its Stadium Series, it makes sense for Arizona to host a game during the Super Bowl bye week. With the huge amount of sports fans flooding the Phoenix metropolitan area for the NFL and the PGA (Phoenix Open), there will be no trouble attracting fans to the game and drawing outside attention to it.

Brendan Porter: Absolutely. The NHL should move to capitalize on the stability they have in their Southern franchises, especially Arizona. This would be an excellent way to make up for both the cancelled All-Star Game that Glendale has yet to receive and the difficult ownership years. An outdoor game in the Valley in the same week that the sports world turns their eyes to Arizona for the Super Bowl would be a win-win for the Coyotes and the NHL.

Jordan Ellel: It would probably be a boon for the team, but I don't know that anyone "should" be awarded anything. It all depends on the logistics that would go into it and whether the Stadium Series is really a success. I'm still doubtful that it is in the league's best interests to be doing so many outdoor games, so I'm not sure whether I'm signing on to add the Coyotes to the growing list.

Carl Pavlock (Beta): While I think from a business stand point it would be good for the longer term position of the NHL in Arizona, which is good for the team and for the league, it will probably depend on how the LA game goes. While it seems theoretically possible that a game here could work, I think all parties involved want to see it in practice first. If Arizona doesn't have an outdoor game in the future I believe it should host the All-Star Game, which it lost in the lockout before the last lockout.

If the Coyotes played a Stadium Series game next season, who should the opponent be?

Jaime: There are two teams that make sense. If the NHL wants to continue with the geographic rivalries, the Los Angeles Kings should be Phoenix's opponent. If they're worried about attendance, the Chicago Blackhawks are a logical choice. Despite how successful the LA Stadium Series game is, there will still be a bit of uncertainty about the viability of two Southwestern teams in a outdoor game. Because both teams (LA and Anaheim) play in the market where the outdoor game is being held, it doubles the fan base for local ticket sales.

Brendan: I know there are some who think the easiest way to make sure the game draws enough fans would be to play a marquee team like the Chicago Blackhawks or the Detroit Red Wings, but I think the logical choice from both a game and a business perspective is the Los Angeles Kings. The dominant narrative in Arizona sports is Phoenix vs. LA. Whether its the Suns, D-Backs, Sun Devils, or even the Mercury, Los Angeles fires Valley sports fans up like nobody else. If IceArizona wants to introduce the game of hockey to Valley fans who aren't really into it yet, I can think of no better opponent for the Coyotes to play than the Kings.

Beta: Chicago would be good, the Coyotes have had recent playoff history with them and from a business stand point they do draw a big crowd, and I think it would be good to grow that rivalry. I think the California teams would be good, although I think if that were happen I would go with San Jose since LA and Anaheim are playing in one this year. Although it won't happen since they are doing the Heritage Classic. I would really like to see Phoenix play against Winnipeg, New Thrashers vs Old Jets would be a good game for that because the Stadium Series games are such a big stage.

Alpha: It all depends on what your criteria is. If you want a burgeoning rivalry you go with the Kings. If you want a team with a big national footprint and a ton of fans in the Valley you go with the Blackhawks. I'd prefer the Kings, though my guess is NBC and the NHL would prefer the guys from the Second City.

Jordan: I'd have to say the Kings. That rivalry has really been fun over the past few years and the fans travel well enough to help make the environment really fun, but without the obnoxiousness that could occur if it was Detroit or Chicago. Pretty much anything that is going to be rivalry-related for the Coyotes, in my opinion, should involve the Kings at this point. Granted, I'll take the All Star Game over the stadium series right now.

How many points do the Coyotes need to get in December to avoid falling too far behind in the standings?

Brendan: I'm not incredibly concerned with the Coyotes' slide down the standings, as every team in the Pacific is probably going to run into rough patches by virtue of the incredibly tough division. That being said, I believe the Coyotes need to play +.500 hockey if they want to give themselves a better chance at the upper seeds. If the Coyotes pick up 14-15 points, I think they will put themselves in a good spot for the second half of the season, when they've historically done better.

Jordan: I think you never want to play below .600 hockey or thereabouts. I'm a bit too lazy to figure out what that would equate to for the month of December, but it shouldn't be too significant of a concern regardless of whether they meet that target or not. The season still will have a long way to go and a later hot stretch when other teams invariably struggle will help the Coyotes close any gap. Remember, the year the Coyotes won the Pacific Division, they were on the outside looking in coming out of the All Star Break before that remarkable February run. No team should expect something like that to happen again, though.

Alpha: I think 8-10 points in 13 games probably has them heading into January out of the top eight spots in the West, but still in the thick of the playoff hunt. They probably need something on the order of 15 points to stay where they currently are in the standings. If they were in the Metropolitan Division the three points they have right now might be enough. Kidding. Sort of.

Jaime: With nine games remaining in December, the Yotes will need an additional dozen points to climb over Colorado or Vancouver for a wild card spot.

Beta: I don't think actual points matter as much as position, so if the Coyotes finish in at least 4th place or one or two points behind 4th they should be in a good position. The Division is though so they don't want to be too far out, but as long as they are close to a wild card spot I think they will finish the year in a good position.

Does Phoenix need to make a splash on the trade market before the New Year?

Alpha: I hate the concept of making a "splash" period. Making moves to satisfy a fan base in the short term is a terrible strategy. Does the team need to make a move? Possibly. They could use a penalty killer and a second line left winger (this is getting redundant). What would be nice is if they could fill both needs with just one player. If they are going to make a move doing so by the end of January at the latest would be my preference, so they can fully integrate the new player into the team by the playoffs.

Beta: All season I've been thinking that something has been missing from the Coyotes line up that they need to address but I'm not sure that it is going to happen before the New Year. Even if they wanted to make a trade, they would still need another team to do it, and as we saw with the Klesla situation, other teams aren't necessarily in a trading position. All things considered I don't think its a pressing issue, and while I would certainly rather it happened sooner then later, fans shouldn't be too concerned if it doesn't happen until the deadline.

Jordan: I don't think so--the team needs to get healthy more than anything else, and it's an inopportune time to have the flu bug hitting the locker room right now. Getting Z back against Colorado seems to have helped solidify the defensive line, and the offense has been clicking pretty well, and there are guys playing at the AHL that are contributing and may be ready to do more if necessary.

Brendan: If the right move is there, I think GMDM should take it. I still don't think they are in a position where they need to make a move to stay competitive, though the lack of shutdown defensemen on the roster continues to be a lingering concern. Once Zbynek Michalek makes it back into the lineup I think they will have a better sense of where this team is at and how necessary a move is.

Jaime: As in every situation across all sports, if the trade makes sense you do it. The Coyotes are not in a position to take on a ton of salary, but could use another penalty killer (preferably a center) and of course finding Ray Whitney's replacement on the left wing. These spots could be filled with rentals at the deadline so the Yotes don't have to move a prospect the caliber of Connor Murphy, Brandon Gormley or David Rundblad. In short, no, Phoenix does not need to make a move before the New Year.