Greatest Arizona Moments in Coyotes' Franchise History

As the Coyotes get set to bid farewell to Arizona, we look back at some of their greatest moments in the desert.
Arizona Coyotes v Vancouver Canucks
Arizona Coyotes v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages
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Amidst much remaining uncertainty, the Arizona Coyotes are set to host the Edmonton Oilers tonight in what appears increasingly likely to be the franchise's final game in the desert.

On one hand, things are set to wrap up in appropriately ignominious fashion, with the 'Yotes hosting the league's best player, Connor McDavid in their temporary 5,000-seat college hockey rink. However, it will still be an emotional night for the loyal, angry core of supporters who have followed the team through their 27 seasons in Arizona.

It hasn't exactly been the most successful quarter-century plus on the ice, but the Coyotes have nevertheless provided some highlights. As we await an official announcement regarding the franchise's anticipated move to Salt Lake City, let's take a moment to look back on some of the greatest moments over their time in Arizona:

Arriving in Phoenix

Back in 1996, Arizona was on the other end of a relocation boondoggle, with Winnipeg's loss of the Jets (at the time, anyway) signaling a move south for the franchise. With the move came significant roster turmoil, as Jets stars Teemu Selanne and Alexei Zhamnov found new homes, while Jeremy Roenick and future Hall of Famer Mike Gartner joined the organization.

Coyotes V Ducks
The early Coyotes were led by colorful veterans Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk. / Elsa/GettyImages

The end result was a solid campaign anchored by Keith Tkachuk's career-best 52 goals and some stellar goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin. In the playoffs, the Coyotes fell to Selanne's Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in a hard-fought seven-game first round series.

Division Champs!

Facing an uncertain future and with starting netminder Ilya Bryzgalov shipped off to Philadelphia in the off-season, things looked rather precarious for Phoenix heading into the 2011-12 season. Fortunately, that wouldn't deter a talented, high-character roster led by the likes of captain Shane Doan, leading scorer Ray Whitney and standout goaltender Mike Smith from winning the franchise's first and only division title.

Ray Whitney
The Coyotes salute the crowd after falling to the Kings in the 2012 Western Conference Final. / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

By amassing 97 points thanks to a 42-27-13 record, the Coyotes reigned atop the Pacific Division. The playoffs brought more success, including the only series victories during their entire Arizona tenure. They knocked off Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks in an overtime-heavy opening round and took care of the Nashville Predators to reach the Western Conference Final. They ultimately fell in five games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

Ariz-Doan-a

Discussions centered on the greatest Coyote of all-time are less a debate and more a consensus agreement. You won't find many fans who put anyone other than Doan in the conversation. The long-time captain tops the all-time franchise lists in goals, assists, points and games played. His vaunted status in the organization is why it's been so special to watch Josh Doan's impressive arrival this season as an NHL rookie.

Shane Doan
Shane Doan, the greatest Coyote. / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Doan spent 20 years in the desert and 21 within the organization (the franchise's final season in Winnipeg was his rookie year). So it was a fitting conclusion to a legendary career that he would score goal No. 400 at Gila River Arena in his 1,500th career game at the age of 40. While the current Toronto Maple Leafs executive never hoisted the Stanley Cup, he did create one final, iconic moment for fans to remember.

While NHL hockey may be set to depart Arizona (for now, anyway), memories have been created over the past 27 years that are worth celebrating. Hopefully tonight can stand as more of a celebratory than somber affair.