Report: Coyotes to Utah “Not a Traditional Relocation” – SportsLogos.Net News

Report: Coyotes to Utah “Not a Traditional Relocation”

The Arizona Coyotes and owner Alex Meruelo may get the coveted Cleveland Browns deal as part of the club’s anticipated move to Salt Lake City for next season.

According to a Tweet from ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, after the club shifts to Utah, Meruelo may be able to bring the Coyotes back as an expansion team. This would be similar to the Cleveland Browns, who, after relocating to Baltimore, were able to revive and continue their franchise as an expansion team four years later.

Wyshynski’s wording here, specifically saying it’s “not a traditional relocation,” suggests the Utah Whatevers will be considered an expansion team with its own history, starting from scratch, while the Arizona Coyotes would be a suspended franchise, able to pick up where it left off should it get its arena situation figured out someday.

Suspending the Coyotes also strongly suggests that the Utah team will have its own unique name, logo, and branding. Hopefully, the creative team at NHL HQ is already working hard on this, as the club will be playing its first exhibition games in just five months—ah, they did it in less time when the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in late May 2011, no problem. The owner of the Utah Jazz, who would be receiving this team, solicited name suggestions from the public earlier this week.

This would be the first time the NHL has offered such a history-rewriting deal regarding its franchises. The league has always held firm that a franchise is a franchise, and its history travels as the team does. The NBA shuffled things around when the Charlotte Bobcats changed their name to the Hornets, taking that history away from the New Orleans Hornets after they became the Pelicans. The NFL, of course, allowed the Browns to keep their history.

Case in point — if/when this deal is completed, the Arizona Coyotes would be given a special exemption that essentially allows them to keep the history of the original relocated Winnipeg Jets as their team sits dormant in the desert while the actual, current, playing Winnipeg Jets would not have the history.

If we’re going to play musical chairs with history, can we at least give the Jets back that history? It certainly isn’t doing anything belonging to a suspended franchise. For the record, I disagree with rearranging history like this, but if you’re doing it for the Coyotes, then do it for the Jets.

While messing with the timelines is new for the league, suspended franchises are not. In the early days of the NHL, several franchises were suspended for many seasons to allow owners to solve an arena issue or improve their financial situations:

A History of Suspended NHL Franchises


The Quebec Bulldogs were granted a franchise for the league’s inaugural season in 1917-18 but did not suit up due to financial issues; when they didn’t commit to joining in time for year two, the league cancelled the suspended franchise without the club ever playing a game in the NHL. Wanting a team in Quebec, the NHL approved a second, new franchise, which began play in 1919-20 as the Quebec Athletics. After all that, the Athletics moved to Hamilton after one season, where they played as the Tigers until 1924-25.


The original Ottawa Senators, faced with a financial burden, requested the league suspend their franchise following the 1930-31 season. The Senators were strapped for cash, had trouble paying players, and even explored moving to Chicago and Toronto to play as a second team in either city. After a single suspended season away, the Senators returned to the NHL in 1932, but not for long… two years later, the club moved to St. Louis, where they played one final season as the St. Louis Eagles. The Eagles asked the league for another suspension, but the league refused.


Along with the Senators, the Philadelphia Quakers (the former Pittsburgh Pirates) suspended their franchise in 1931. The Quakers were present at the NHL’s meetings for the next five seasons, where they’d state their plans to move to a new arena in Pittsburgh while also extending their own suspension for another season. Finally, the NHL terminated the franchise in 1936 once it was apparent there would be no new arena coming anytime soon.


The original New York professional hockey club joined the NHL a year before the Rangers. The New York Americans never had the same success as the Rangers, on the ice or financially. Desperate for support, the club tried re-branding as the Brooklyn Americans in 1941, but it didn’t help. The Americans requested and were granted a suspension from the league for the duration of World War II with a promise from the league to bring the team back when they were ready. Five years later, when the Americans franchise announced its intention to return, the league (or, perhaps, the New York Rangers) wasn’t interested, and the franchise was promptly cancelled.


The other team in Montreal, the one for whom the famous Forum was built. The Montreal Maroons won two Stanley Cups during their decade-long run in the NHL before running into financial issues during the Great Depression. The Maroons requested their franchise be suspended in 1938 and attempted to relocate to St. Louis but were rejected by the league. In 1945, the Maroons were closing on a deal to sell to a group intent on relocating to Philadelphia, but the lack of a decent arena ended the talks. The NHL finally cancelled the Maroons franchise in 1947, ten seasons after they last played a game.