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Arizona Coyotes NHL Relocation Odds: Bring Back The Whale?

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 5 mins

Arizona Coyotes NHL Relocation Odds: Bring Back The Whale?

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The voters have spoken: There will be no new arena for the Arizona Coyotes and entertainment area built around it. So, now what? 

None of the votes were particularly close, and so the Coyotes are in limbo. For now, they are slated to play in a 5,000-seat arena on the Arizona State campus next season (per the deal they announced in February as part of the ongoing uncertainty around a new stadium deal), 

The NHL didn’t sound too steadfast in digging in their heels and assuring the team remains in the Phoenix area. That opens the door for a relocation.

Coyotes majority owner Alex Meruelo has no strong ties to the Phoenix area, so the NHL’s only Latino majority owner could take his team elsewhere. One option that popped up recently is ... Hartford. Yes, the never-ending push to #bringbackthewhale has new life. What are the odds of that?

Bookies.com oddsmaker Adam Thompson has researched the landscape and created NHL odds as to where the Coyotes next call home. 

Arizona Coyotes NHL Relocation Odds

CityOddsImplied Probability
Houston+25028.6%
Kansas City+45018.2%
Salt Lake City+50016.7%
Atlanta+55015.4%
Milwaukee+85010.5%
Toronto+85010.5%
Hartford+10009.1%
Quebec City+15006.3%
The Field+25003.9%

The Gulf of Mexico region isn’t exactly hockey territory, but Houston is one of the five largest metro areas in the nation and it has no NHL team. Houston boasts a ton of people, a ton of business and it continues to grow. If the NHL expands, Houston is considered a frontrunner for one of two possible teams. 

A Coyotes relocation could get a team to town sooner and is likely atop the league’s preferred destinations. After Houston, most other top destinations either have had a team in the past, or currently have a team. 

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Toronto is considered the epicenter of hockey, and it has the ever-popular Maple Leafs. But with a metro size north of seven million inhabitants, many believe the area could handle a second pro team. 

If New York, Los Angeles and Chicago can host multiple local teams in the same sport – greater New York has three hockey teams if you count New Jersey’s Devils – Toronto and two hockey teams doesn’t sound like a reach. 

Atlanta has already had two NHL franchises in recent years, and both failed to stick in a highly competitive market. But it’s still a top-10 metro area. 

Would a third time be the charm for Atlanta? Would the NHL really want to give the city yet another opportunity without some major assurances? 

Kansas City and Quebec City have also had NHL teams, Quebec far more recently. Kansas City would make for a natural rival for the St. Louis Blues and there’s an arena in place itching for a major pro team to make it their own. A move to KC has the blessing of Chiefs superstar QB Patrick Mahomes

Quebec City doesn’t have the size or financial potential of other destinations, though nobody can discount the passion of the fanbase. The same could be said for Hartford, which previously had the Whalers until 1997. The governor of Connecticut has stated he plans to meet with the NHL in an effort to bring the Coyotes, though there is no viable arena at the moment - the same reason the Whalers left for North Carolina and were renamed the Hurricanes.

Salt Lake City wants an NHL team, has the government backing and an arena that can house them in the immediate term, with a possible plan to build a brand-new arena as part of a push to bring the Winter Olympics to the area. The push is led by an owner with deep pockets and a deep interest in the sport, and a growing and affluent area. 

Milwaukee also has no NHL team, a surprise considering the climate and the strong hockey interest in the state. The town would be on the smaller side and it’s just over 100 miles from Chicago, cutting into the Blackhawks market. Milwaukee has tried before to get a team to no avail, but has the new Fiserv Forum to offer. 

The Field includes cities that have the population or the interest, but not enough of either or is too close to another NHL market, including San Francisco, Cleveland, Portland, Cincinnati and Indianapolis

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.