Report: Arizona Coyotes could change division with Seattle expansion

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 06: Michael Grabner #40 and Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Arizona Coyotes get ready during a faceoff against the Anaheim Ducks at Gila River Arena on October 6, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 06: Michael Grabner #40 and Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Arizona Coyotes get ready during a faceoff against the Anaheim Ducks at Gila River Arena on October 6, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The NHL looks set to add a Seattle expansion team between 2020 and 2021 and it appears that the Arizona Coyotes could be affected the most by this addition.

Respected Sportsnet report Chris Johnston had an interesting take in his ‘Beyond the Headlines‘ piece, which was published three days ago.

In it, he commented on the new Seattle franchise ownership group working on rebuilding KeyArena and needing to have it ready within two years.

Along with this, he mentioned that the new expansion team would logically be placed in the Pacific Division, meaning that the Arizona Coyotes would likely be moved into the Central Division as a result.

"“There will be no grand-scale realignment when Seattle is ready to enter the league, with the expansion team expected to join the Pacific Division while Arizona moves to the Central.” – Chris Johnston"

This would have huge repercussions for the Coyotes organisation, as it would see the team moved away from its geographically closest rivals.

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The Vegas Golden Knights as the closest team to the Coyotes, just 450km away, with Anaheim and LA the next closest, with the Kings the furthest of the three at just under 570km away.

The San Jose Sharks are also fairly close as far as teams in the NHL go, while the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are up in Canada.

Adding a Seattle franchise to the NHL would understandably create a natural rival for the Canucks, given how close the two cities are to each other.

So, in the eyes of the league, it would make sense to put the two into the same division so that a stronger, more exciting rivalry can develop that could have a potential impact on divisional standings.

The Coyotes are often considered to be one of the lesser valued franchises within the league, with rumours of the team being moved elsewhere almost a yearly discussion.

The most recent of which has been Houston, with Johnston himself naming the Texas city in his article.

He himself commented on how moving the franchise to the Central Division would likely add fire to the Houston rumours and could even tip the scales regarding a move.

If the Arizona Coyotes are realigned into the Central, they’d be paired up with Chicago, Dallas, Colorado, Winnipeg, Nashville, Minnesota and St. Louis.

Having the Jets and Coyotes as divisional rivals could be interesting, given the history of both franchises and their relationships with the city of Winnipeg.

But the one team the league is likely focusing on in this move, and a potential relocation, is the Dallas Stars.

Moving the Coyotes to Houston would create a ‘Battle of Texas’ rivalry that would enthuse the state.

Having a rivalry within Texas would certainly add to the excitement factor when the two teams meet and would generate a lot of what the NHL is seeking in something like this – money.

Moving the Coyotes from Arizona would be disappointing for the dedicated fans that have rooted for this team from day one and the new generation of fans that have grown up with the likes of Shane Doan, Jeremy RoenickTeppo Numminen and now Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews grew up in Arizona and is a fan of the team, coming from a state that is not usually associated with the sport.

The franchise has had some rocky years with where they play their games and persistent rumours of a move, but the worst does seem to be behind them.

The future of the team is bright, with plenty of talented young players coming through the system and fans truly beginning to buy into the team and what it means to the state

Moving the Arizona Coyotes to the Central could change all of that, with the rumours of a potential relocation likely to resurface.

While no official decision has been made or will be made before the Seattle franchise joins the league, it is a potentially worrying story that has not made headlines.

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What do you think Coyotes fans? Would moving to the Central be detrimental to the team? Do you think it could tip the scales in a possible relocation decision? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!