It’s fitting that the first game played at home this year for the Arizona Coyotes is against the Winnipeg Jets. After all — well you know the story — Jets 1.0 move to Phoenix in the mid-1990s, creating a void in this city’s hockey landscape for a decade and a half.
But when you look at it in terms of 2022 and Jets 2.0, you have to ask yourself which fanbase has been better served by their NHL team.
Remember, the Coyotes have been a bit of a “work in progress” for a long, long time. Their playoff history is, well, spotty — just nine times in 25 seasons.
There have been at least five owners (including the NHL itself), three arenas, and eight head coaches, including a guy named Rick Bowness. It has never really become a core sport in the Valley of the Sun… and certainly not like it was with the original Jets.
Back to school 🤓
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) October 28, 2022
The latest edition of the Coyotes will start with 20 of their first 24 games on the road, as their new, temporary home in Tempe is refitted to NHL standards. Remember, it’s a building that holds around 5,000 fans — a far cry from the 15,000 at Canada Life Centre — and hockey fans in that area will wait for another city council and another vote on Nov. 29 to decide whether or not another arena will be built. The word “stability” does not exist in the vocabulary of an Arizona hockey fan.
Since Winnipeg returned to the NHL, this Jets team has made more appearances in the playoffs than the Desert Dogs and certainly has gone deeper when they get there.
So ask yourself, would you rather have this Jets team or the Coyotes? I know those 14 years were painful, but stable ownership, a great building, and more success — those key elements alone tell me that you know the answer: these Jets were worth the wait.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.