For the Phoenix Coyotes, 2013 was not a year focused on the changes, but the lack of changes. This summer, Arizona-based Coyotes fans were given the best news since 1979 when the team was founded. Renaissance Sports and Entertainment – a Canadian buying group – bought the Coyotes prior to the deadline of July 2nd given by the National Hockey League. The group agreed to a clause which would cement the team to Phoenix for at least the next five years. Among the group containing entrepreneurs George Gosbee and Anthony Leblanc, the owners negotiated a deal for $170 million.
“It was probably one of the most complicated transactions I’ve worked on in 21 years in the financial business,” said Gosbee who insinuated that the mission of the group was to be the building of a winning organization.
But in spite of the focal point being the ownership saga that had lasted four years; the year was also highlighted by the signing of goaltender Mike Smith. A few days prior to Smith becoming an unrestricted free-agent, the Coyotes inked the net minder to a 6 year, Smith, $5.67 million per year deal.
“I’m thrilled to re-sign with the Coyotes,” said Smith following the multiyear signing. “We have a great young team and an excellent coaching staff and management team. I’ve really enjoyed playing in the Valley the past two seasons and this is where I wanted to stay.”
Not only has the club setup a bright future, but they have also maintained a record which would allow them a playoff spot as of today. The Coyotes’ season so far has been highlighted by the two historical goals scored by Mike Smith. One on a full ice shot against the Detroit Red Wings as time expired on October 21st when he became the seventh goalie in NHL history to score a goal. And the second – in his own net – against Buffalo when he backed into the cage with the puck in his pants and lost the game in overtime, which became one of the oddest endings to a hockey game in history.
Regardless of the oddities of the season so far, the Coyotes ultimately have solidified both an elite goaltender, and more importantly, an owner who would benefit the organization and their fan base by remaining in Phoenix. The year of 2013 was a victory in the eyes of a Coyotes fan, and hopefully 2014 will follow the trend.
Tyler Jones, Howlin’ Hockey