2014 was an interesting year for the
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes. The team, and its arena, got a new name. After almost a half decade without an owner, the Coyotes had an owner for the entire year, and appear to be on the way to adding another one.
The on-ice product has been poor. Arizona is a team in transition, and a team set to be a full-blown seller in the New Year. It's tough for fans to keep their spirits high when their favorite team is on track to miss the playoffs for the third season in a row.
All of that said, all of us here at Five For Howling would like to thank you for being loyal readers in 2014. Relive our most read stories of the year:
5. The Open Meeting Law and the Arizona Coyotes lease agreement (July -- Brendan Porter)
It wouldn't be the Coyotes without some form of political controversy. Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers was not happy with some of the discussion leading up to the affirmative vote to approve IceArizona's lease agreement. The mayor threatened to file an Open Meeting Law complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office. This whole topic silently died off, but it gave some fans a lot to worry about and brought back up past hard feelings.
"The presence of existing caselaw does not preclude the court from taking a different stance now. But if nothing else, Coyotes fans should breathe a little easier knowing there is law that supports keeping the arena lease agreement in place."
4. 39 rejected names for the Arizona Coyotes' Gila River Arena (August -- FFH staff)
Oh boy did we have fun with this one. Readers got to see a glimpse inside a FFH email chain, as we deliberated on what arena names were rejected before the Coyotes chose to partner with Gila River Casinos. Some of these were awesome, some were duds, but it's a fun read either way.
"39. FarmersOnly.com Arena"
3. Phoenix Coyotes hockey helps fan cope with wife's death
(February -- Jaime Eisner)
The story of a loyal Coyotes fan, and FFH reader, who found joy in a very difficult part of his life through Coyotes hockey. As fate would have it, he was rewarded financially for his passion, winning the 50/50 raffle mere days after the passing of his wife. The winnings helped cover the cost of the funeral. If you only read one story this year, make it this one.
"The winning raffle ticket in Lee's hand represented an oasis of positivity in a desert of despair."
2. Paul Bissonnette and the diminishing role of the NHL enforcer (September -- Brendan Porter)
The NHL is moving away from fight-first players dubbed "enforcers" in favor of a more skilled fourth line. One of those casualties is fan-favorite Paul Bissonnette. After several years with the Coyotes, Bissonnette was unable to secure an NHL contract and is toiling away in the AHL in hopes of returning to the show.
"Through no fault of his own, the NHL Bissonnette finds himself in is a league that has seen precipitous declines in fighting... "
1. Mike Ribeiro's Coyotes career ends after an unfortunate twist of fate (June -- Jaime Eisner)
The biggest Coyotes free agent signing in years turned out to be one of the franchise's biggest mistakes. In a surprising move just before the 2014 NHL Draft, Arizona bought out the final three years of Ribeiro's contract. Arizona is on the hook for two-thirds of his remaining salary over the next six seasons.
"But less than one year later, Ribeiro's buyout symbolized all that was wrong with the 2013-14 season."