Matthew Knies, Auston Matthews share thoughts on Coyotes relocation

Dean Chaudhry
April 12, 2024  (8:45)

Matthew Knies skating in the attacking zone
Photo credit: Mike Brehm - USA Today Sports

With the Arizona Coyotes reportedly on the verge of relocating to Salt Lake City, Utah, it almost seems like the inevitable has become a reality. While many will be rejoicing in the news, there are a few people, like Maple Leafs forwards Matthew Knies and Auston Matthews, who are relatively upset about the situation.

The Coyotes organization has been a struggling franchise on and off the ice for a very long time. Since initially relocating from Winnipeg ahead of the 1996-97 season, the Phoenix Coyotes - as they were referred to back then - made the post-season but were ousted in the first round in 5 of their first 6 seasons. They only made the post-season 3 more times in the next 11 seasons before being purchased by the League and becoming the Arizona Coyotes due bankruptcy, consistent loss of revenue, and new ownership.
Things didn't get any better once the team changed names. In fact, they never won more than 35 games in a season - which they did only once back in 2015-16. The Coyotes consistently finished at or near the bottom of the NHL standings and have only qualified for the post-season once since 2012-13 and it was during the 20-team playoff bubble in 2020. Horrible on-ice play, continued loss of revenue, the city of Glendale terminating their lease, and playing in the desert where hockey is not a big part of the culture there were consistent issues on a year-to-year basis, which brought a lot of discontent around the hockey world as to why the NHL refused to relocate them.
While on the outside looking in, it seemed like there wasn't much fan fare surrounding the Coyotes, but ironically enough, two very important members of the Maple Leafs organization grew up watching and supporting the Coyotes in Auston Matthews and Matthew Knies.
Knies, who took up hockey primarily because of the Coyotes' presence in his home-state of Arizona, spoke to the media ahead of the Leafs' tilt against the New Jersey Devils tonight about the possibility of his boyhood team moving and what that means to him:
"It's pretty unfortunate. The Coyotes did a lot for me growing up and loved going to the games. And it was a kind of big reason as to why I got into hockey," Knies said. "But yeah, that kind of situation's out of my control. And I'm hopeful that they can stay there 'cause it meant a lot to me. But yeah, I guess we'll have to see what happens."
As Knies points out, the situation is out of his control and quite honestly it has been for a long time. Things really hit the fan once the Coyotes got locked out of Gila River Arena by the City of Glendale for not paying the $1.3 million dollars in taxes they had owed. They then shifted to Arizona State University and have been playing in a 5,000-seat arena, which has definitely drawn the ire of the fanbase, the hockey world, and the owners.
Auston Matthews shared a similar sentiment with Knies. We all know how vocal Matthews has been over the Coyotes essentially giving him his start. He, like Knies, just believes that the whole situation is very unfortunate.
"Obviously, selfishly, growing up there with them being a big part of me getting into hockey, you know, I'd love for them to figure it out, but you kind of understand the position the NHL's in as well"
-Matthews on the Coyotes to Salt Lake City talk

Elliotte Friedman discussed, at length, that the pot finally boiled over, but does believe that Gary Bettman will always fight for the Arizona market and maybe there's a chance we see them get another team somewhere down the line. However as of right now, the situation is even out of the commissioner's hands:
"Basically you have to be at the end, like I remember with the Atlanta-Winnipeg one, they were at the end. The Atlanta ownership was crumbling, they didn't have anyone locally who wanted to own the team, they didn't see a lot of hope there... so they went and they moved. Unfortunately that's kind of where we are now, there is someone who wants to own the team but the arena situation being what it is... basically, the commissioner is not afraid of fighting battles, but sometimes you have to realize when your battle is temporarily lost and he won't give up on the Arizona market. I don't think he ever will. He thinks very highly of it and has fought for it, but you got the players upset, you got the other owners upset, and even if they win the auction, and by the organization's own words, three more years before they can play anywhere but Mullett Arena... You'll only see it when the time has come and unfortunately for Coyotes fans right now, the time has come."

The Coyotes intend to bid on a plot of land in an auction that will be held in June and while that might bring some optimism for it's fans, the NHL will most likely not want to wait until the summer. Moreover, the owner of the Utah Jazz has taken to Twitter for names for a possible NHL team and Salt Lake City has been a growing hot bed for relocation or expansion over the last few years.
That, in it of itself, worries Knies a little bit because he's afraid that relocation will stunt the popularity of the sport in Arizona - even if they've been promised future expansion:
"When I was growing up, it wasn't the hockey hotbed that Colorado or Chicago or Detroit was. But it was definitely growing and you could see the potential there," Knies said of the Arizona market. "I think the Coyotes were a big part of that. It's definitely got a lot better and a lot of guys are starting to pick up a hockey stick now. It's just really good to see.

Again. I hope they can stay there but it's out of my control. Not too really happy about the situation but it is what it is. "

For all intents and purposes, it looks like Arizona will no longer be in the NHL moving forward. The NHL has even reportedly drafted two 2024-25 regular season schedules on the off-chance Salt Lake City is granted control of the team. Knies and the rest of the Coyotes fan base have a right to be distraught but it was always an inevitability with how incredibly unstable their situation has been.
Source: The Hockey News
'Not Too Really Happy About The Situation': Arizona Native and Maple Leafs Forward Matthew Knies Weighs in on Possible Relocation of Coyotes to Salt Lake City
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Matthew Knies, Auston Matthews share thoughts on Coyotes relocation

Did the NHL slight Canada once again by overlooking them for relocation?

Yes, Quebec City is a better market27276.4 %
No, there aren't many hot spots to choose from8423.6 %
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