Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
The franchise began life as the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association (WHA) in 1972 where they enjoyed considerable success, winning three Avco World Trophies as the league champions and making the finals in five of the league’s seven seasons. When the WHA merged with the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1979 the Jets were one of the four admitted to the NHL.
The team was unsuccessful in their years as an NHL team in Winnipeg both on the ice and in the bank account. Despite a strong and loyal fan base, the team was sold and moved to Phoenix for the 1996-96 season. The new moniker of the Coyotes was chosen most popular by the fans of the new city.
Team success has not changed since the move south, as they have not been able to secure a division, conference or Stanley Cup championship to date. In fact, the team has not made it past the first round of the playoffs since they have been in Phoenix.
The Coyotes have shown signs of turning their losing ways around this season, but continued mediocrity have them out of the playoffs at the time of writing this article. The team’s future looks bright despite this fact, as young players such as Peter Mueller, Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal and Daniel Carcillo have shown signs of promise.
Significant players that have worn the team’s jersey, whether it be as the Jets or the Coyotes, include Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Mike Gartner, Serge Savard, Morris Lukowich, Keith Tkachuk, Shane Doan, Jeremy Roenick, Teppo Numminen, Doug Smail, Laurie Boschman, Ulf Nilsson, Randy Carlyle, Teemu Selanne, Phil Housley, Brett Hull, Nikolai Khabibulin and Oleg Tverdovsky.
Perhaps the most recognizable personality, especially since the team moved to Phoenix, would be Wayne Gretzky who became part owner in 2001. Gretzky presently serves as Head Coach for the team.
Numbers retired by the team include number 9 for Bobby Hull, number 10 for Dale Hawerchuk and number 25 for Thomas Steen. Interestingly Bobby Hull’s number 9 was temporarily un-retired when the team signed his son, Brett Hull to allow Brett to don this jersey number.