7 Arizona Coyotes Rumors That Turned Out to be True
The NHL rumors may not get as much attention as some other sports, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t churn just as much. Whether they’re championship-caliber teams or rebuilding franchises struggling to compete, no team is immune to rumors that may or may not be true. Over the years, there have been plenty of Arizona Coyotes rumors that ended up coming to fruition. Let’s take a look back at some of the Arizona Coyotes rumors that actually turned out to be true.
1996 Trade for Jeremy Roenick
Social media didn’t exist back in 1996, but if there was, the Internet would have been going crazy with rumors and speculation that Roenick might be on the move during the summer of 1996. At the time, Roenick was still in the prime of his career, having led the Blackhawks in goals the previous season despite being limited to just 66 games due to injury. Remember, he arrived in time for the first-ever Coyotes season after the franchise relocated from Winnipeg. Rumors that team might be able to land a star of Roenick’s stature were almost too good to be true yet the deal happened. Needless to say, cheap Coyotes tickets were difficult to find for the team’s inaugural season in the desert after that trade.
Wayne Gretzky Becoming Head Coach
The idea of Wayne Gretzky becoming the team’s head coach is perhaps the most captivating Arizona Coyotes rumor in history. Soon after retiring as a player, the Great One became part-owner of the franchise, helping avoid a move away from Phoenix. Of course, a few years later there were widespread rumors that Gretzky wanted to take his talents to the bench and coach the team. Those rumors were fueled by the fact that Michael Barnett, who was Gretzky’s longtime agent, was the GM of the Coyotes. In August 2005, the Arizona Coyotes rumors finally came to fruition when Gretzky became the team’s head coach. However, things didn’t exactly work out as planned for the Coyotes, who missed the playoffs in all four seasons that Gretzky served as head coach.
2012 Trade for Antoine Vermette
The Coyotes were a below-average team for much of the 2011-12 campaign until they won 11 of their 12 games during the month of February. As the team got hot, speculation picked up about GM Don Maloney making trades to help improve the team rather than be sellers at the trade deadline. In the end, the Coyotes only made one trade, acquiring Vermette from Columbus. But it turned out to be a big one. Vermette was huge for the Coyotes down the stretch and ultimately helped them win a playoff series for the first time and eventually reach the Western Conference Finals.
Trading Away Raffi Torres
Torres was one of the more controversial figures in Coyotes history. His brief time in Arizona was filled with fines and suspensions. Of course, the Coyotes knew that when they signed him ahead of the 2011-12 season. He was hit with a 25-game suspension in April 2012 that caused him to miss the team’s run to the Western Conference Finals and kept him out for the early part of the following season. When he returned, there was speculation that his days in Arizona could be numbered. Those trade rumors came to fruition in early April of 2013 when Torres was traded to San Jose, ending a short but eventful tenure with the Coyotes.
Signing Ed Jovanovski
When his contract with the Canucks was up in the summer of 2006, there were plenty of rumors and speculation about where Jovanovski would end up. He was linked with the Florida Panthers, but there were also strong rumors that he liked the Coyotes because Wayne Gretzky being the head coach. In the end, the lure of being coached by Gretzky was enough for the rumors linking him to the Coyotes to win out. The defenceman signed a five-year deal to join the Coyotes and helped the team return to the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011 before eventually ending up with the Panthers at the end of his NHL career.
2019 Trade for Taylor Hall
In late November of 2019, reports surfaced that the New Jersey Devils were willing to listen to trade offers for 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall. Naturally, the rumor mill exploded with several teams showing significant interest in him. When the Devils actually took Hall out of the lineup for a couple of games, it was clear that a trade was imminent. Ultimately, the Coyotes were the ones to get him, giving up three players and two draft picks. For a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since losing in the Western Conference Finals in 2012, acquiring Hall was a massive pickup for the Coyotes and a huge step toward getting Arizona back in the postseason.
Winnipeg Jets Relocate to Phoenix
Last but not least, we have the rumors of the Coyotes becoming a franchise in the first place. For months, rumors were rampant that the Winnipeg Jets franchise would be sold and relocated. On the surface, it didn’t make much sense to move a hockey franchise from Canada to the desert. However, fans in Winnipeg spent almost the entire 1995-96 NHL season expecting it to be the team’s last in their city. Eventually, those longstanding Arizona Coyotes rumors turned into reality, causing heartache for the hockey fans in Winnipeg that wanted their team to stay while bringing joy to a new set of hockey fans in the Phoenix area that would be getting a pro hockey franchise.