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The Arizona Coyotes are a professional NHL ice hockey team based in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes first played at America West Arena in downtown Phoenix, before moving to Glendale's Gila River Arena in 2003.
The Coyotes were founded on December 27, 1971, as the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association (WHA). After the WHA ceased operations, they were one of four franchises absorbed into the NHL in 1979. The Jets moved to Phoenix on July 1, 1996.
Upon the franchise's relocation to Phoenix, a public team-naming vote was held with "Coyotes" defeating "Scorpions" amongst the finalists. Both coyotes and scorpions are inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert, and the owners/supporters of the club wanted the team name to be an animal that was representative of the region. On June 27, 2014, under new ownership, the team changed its geographic name from "Phoenix" to "Arizona."
Howler is the coyote-suited mascot of the Arizona Coyotes. He was introduced on October 15, 2005. Howler wears number 96 on his jersey, representing the year the Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona, and wears an "M" designation for Mascot.
The Coyotes' original home, America West Arena, was suboptimal for hockey. Although considered a state-of-the-art venue when built for the Phoenix Suns, unlike most modern arenas, it was not designed with a hockey rink in mind. The floor was just barely large enough to fit a standard NHL rink, forcing the Coyotes to hastily re-engineer it to accommodate the 200-foot rink. The configuration left a portion of one end of the upper deck hanging over the boards and ice, obscuring almost a third of the rink and one goal from several sections. As a result, listed capacity had to be cut down from over 18,000 seats to just over 16,000—the second-smallest in the league at the time—after the first season.
The team moved into Glendale Arena (now known as Gila River Arena) about two-and-a-half months into the 2003–04 NHL season. Simultaneously, the team changed its logo and uniforms, moving from the multi-colored kit to a more streamlined look.
The closest that they came to advancing past the first round during their first decade in Arizona was during the 1999 playoffs. After building a 3–1 series lead, The Coyotes would fall in Game 7 overtime to the St. Louis Blues. In 2002, the Coyotes posted 95 points, one point behind their best total as an NHL team while in Winnipeg, but went down rather meekly to the San Jose Sharks in five games.
From then until the 2007–08 season, the Coyotes were barely competitive and managed to break the 80-point barrier only once during that time. Attendance levels dropped considerably, worrying many NHL executives.
On September 24, 2009, Dave Tippett took over coaching duties of the Phoenix Coyotes after Wayne Gretzky stepped down. In just 61 games, Tippett led the Coyotes to more wins in their 2009–10 regular season (37) than their previous season (36), en route to the first 50-win season in the franchise's NHL history.
On March 27, 2010, the Coyotes clinched a playoff spot, their first since the 2001–02 season, and in the process, reached the 100-point mark for the first time ever as an NHL team, and the first time overall since the 1977–78 (WHA) Jets scored 102 points. They finished with 107 points, the highest point total in the franchise's 38-year history. This was good enough for fourth overall in the NHL, tying the 1984–85 Jets for the franchise's highest finish as an NHL team. They also qualified for the fourth seed in the Western Conference, giving them home-ice advantage in the first round for the first time since 1985.
Their first round opponent in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs was the Detroit Red Wings. Game 1 of the series was the first NHL playoff game to be played in Gila River Arena. However, the veteran Red Wings defeated the Coyotes in seven games.
In the following year, the Coyotes played the Detroit Red Wings for the second straight postseason, in the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Coyotes were swept in four games.
On April 7, 2012, the Coyotes defeated the Minnesota Wild with a score of 4–1 to win the Pacific Division title—their first division title as an NHL team (in Winnipeg or Phoenix). This gave them the third seed in the West, and with it home ice advantage in a playoff series for only the third time in franchise history. In the first round, they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in six games, the franchise's first playoff series win since 1987. The first five games went to overtime, tying a record when the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs did it in the 1951 Stanley Cup Final. They faced the Nashville Predators in the second round, winning the first two games and the series 4–1. However, in the Western Conference finals, the Coyotes fell to the Los Angeles Kings in game five of a 4–1 series.
*Information courtesy of Wikipedia