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Relocation Spots for the Arizona Coyotes As… Pizza Toppings

The Arizona Coyotes and finding a new arena is like… peanut butter and jelly. The two just go together so perfectly. In June, the ‘Yotes identified six possible sites for a new arena. These include East Valley sites, consisting of Mesa, Phoenix, and Scottsdale, among other places.

Of course, the homeless Coyotes aren’t new to this sort of thing. Their proposed $2.1 billion entertainment complex in Tempe was soundly rejected by local voters. That’s despite the fact that it would’ve been mostly funded privately… and that location was sitting on top of a landfill. Talk about your bull crap.

While there’s still a possibility of the ‘Yotes staying in Arizona (let’s face it, Bettman wouldn’t let them leave unless a good deal was struck), it’s always fun to take a look at some of the other options. This time, we’re taking a different approach.

No, we’re not talking about chicken wings this time. We’re diving into an amore-filled land of pizza, specifically the relocation spots as toppings. Whether they’re a classic item or downright questionable, you can’t go wrong with such a classic cuisine. Here are some relocation candidates as pizza toppings.

Houston: Pepperoni

A hit among all parties and one that makes the most sense, you can’t go wrong with pepperoni. That’s why Houston is the odds-on favorite in the NHL sphere. They’re the betting favorite for the Arizona Coyotes to move for many reasons.

For starters, Houston’s the fourth-largest city in the United States. Sitting pretty at over 2.3 million residents, moving to Texas’s largest city sounds like the perfect fit. The Dallas Stars would absolutely love a geographical rival that they haven’t had for decades, too. Why not fill that gap by shoving the Arizona Coyotes into Houston?

There are other variables that benefit H-Town, including an NHL-ready arena in the Toyota Center and keeping the franchise in the Central Division. Yes, there are issues such as shared owners not making as much profit as a sole owner owning both teams (looking at you, Tilman Fertitta). But the benefits outweigh the problems, which makes Houston ripe for an NHL franchise. That’s what makes Houston the pepperoni of the relocation pizza.

Kansas City: Bacon

Another good pizza topping choice is bacon. I mean, who doesn’t love this pork delicacy in the U.S.? Just sprinkle some strips and bits on your pizza and you’re the life of the party. Kansas City is the perfect choice for this topping. Why? It has a rich history with BBQ food and bacon. The city has hosted Bacon Fest, with the MLS team even having its own event.

There are other reasons why K.C. is a good fit as a bacon topping for the relocation pizza. There’s a sports arena that’s waiting for a professional team with T-Mobile Center. Like with Houston, the ‘Yotes would also stay in the Central if they moved to Kansas City.

You’re also giving the St. Louis Blues an in-state rival. While the Blues do have the Chicago Blackhawks as a hockey rival, it can’t hurt to have another. Plus, Patrick Mahomes has already purchased a minority stake in the Royals. Why not have the reigning NFL MVP also buy a part of the Coyotes?

Fun fact: Kansas City does have some NHL history to its name. First, there were the Scouts, who were short-lived from 1974 to 1976. They relocated to Denver to become the Colorado Rockies before eventually becoming the modern-day New Jersey Devils.

Indianapolis: Peppers

While the pepper isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to making a pizza, it’s a popular item nevertheless. That’s where the city of Indianapolis comes in. It’s close to Chicago and Nashville, with the Coyotes still not having to leave the Central.

Indianapolis does have some hockey history to its name as well, albeit it was short-lived. The Indianapolis Racers were a WHL team from 1974 to 1978, playing at Market Square Arena. They’re known as the first professional team that Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier played for. On top of that, Indianapolis won an Eastern Division title in 1975-1976.

There are some hang-ups that cool this city’s flaming hot prospects, though. For one, Gainbridge Fieldhouse isn’t NHL-ready yet. It’ll need to undergo major renovations to expand its 11,000+ capacity. It also needs a willing owner to pick up the team and move it there. The current owner of the Arizona Coyotes, Alex Meruelo, hasn’t expressed any desire to move to the Hoosier State. Still, this city has some kick to it and would be good for the Coyotes to relocate to.

Salt Lake City: Sausage

Adding more meat to the relocation pie is Salt Lake City, who’s suddenly become a hot topic for more sports teams. Just look at the popularity of the Utah Jazz. It’s partly what spawned rumors of MLB expansion in the region.

There’s also proximity to Denver and Las Vegas, which adds to the mystique of the Arizona Coyotes moving here. But that Las Vegas connection is a double-edged sword; the Golden Knights will probably have a say in this with their new Scripps deal, which complicates matters.

Delta Center would also need to be expanded to make this happen, capacity-wise. Its current capacity for hockey games is 14,000, which is even less than Canada Life Centre (15,321), home of the Winnipeg Jets. Another sticking point is Salt Lake City is smaller than Boise. Utah may be growing, but its largest city still isn’t big enough.

There’s a reason why sausage isn’t as popular as pepperoni as a pizza topping. While it is meat, it doesn’t carry the same flavor as pepperoni. That’s where Salt Lake City lies: a logical spot for the ‘Yotes hampered down by other factors.

Hamilton: Mushrooms

No, we’re not talking about the kind that makes Mario grow. We’re talking about the kind you put on a pizza. Mushroom is a dark horse topping incorporated into the signature Italian dish, which is where Hamilton falls.

It’s elementary that hockey is a huge sport in Canada. After all, Jim Balsillie almost got the Penguins relocated thereand the Predatorsand the Coyotes. Add in its proximity to Toronto along with an NHL-ready arena and you have a recipe for success.

However, there are reasons why mushrooms aren’t the end-all, be-all for pizza toppings. Not everyone’s on board with the hardy flavor, nor are many people a fan of the texture. Hamilton faces a similar problem with it being another Eastern Conference city. Also, who would want to get the team there, aside from Balsillie (who’s probably going to get shot down again)?

While having more hockey in Toronto sounds nice, everyone knows the Maple Leafs are the kings there. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment will probably have a say in the matter, which makes things murkier. Don’t get me wrong, Hamilton does deserve a hockey team. It’s just the mushrooms of the relocation pizza, not holding as much stock as it would like.

Quebec City: Buffalo Chicken

You can’t go wrong with buffalo chicken on pizza (yes, it’s THAT good). Personally, I’m a sucker for the delicacy that can go on nearly anything.

However, some people prefer such a food item to not touch their pizza. They love buffalo chicken, just not on a pie. If you’re a huge fan of buffalo chicken as a concept, but not on pizza, this is for you. This comparison goes to Quebec City, which has a parallel predicament.

Long a popular candidate for relocating the Arizona Coyotes, Quebec City has everything you’d want: a passionate fan base, an NHL-ready arena, and good hockey history with the Nordiques.

So what’s the issue with bringing Quebec a second team? For one, you’d have to rearrange the NHL conferences again. The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets don’t want to return to the Western Conference. Therefore, they’ll raise a stink about this move if it’s proposed.

Also, Quebec City isn’t a big city compared to, say, Toronto or Montreal. It only houses a metro population of nearly 840,000. Throw in the fact that a significant portion of that population speaks French and the case for Quebec City turns sour.

Still, you can’t go wrong with Quebec getting another team. The Montreal Canadiens would gain another rival and Canada would gain another team. If the circumstances are just right (like buffalo chicken on pizza), that reality will happen one day.

Atlanta: Pineapple

The public is split on whether pineapple belongs on pizza. Is it good? Is it bad? The topic has almost started a civil war in North America, leaving the masses debating for years. Another topic similar to this is whether Atlanta deserves another NHL team.

There’s plenty of controversy regarding whether Atlanta deserves another NHL team, starting with its NHL failures. Back in the 70s, the Atlanta Flames were a thing, playing in the Peach State until 1980. They left for Calgary, with attendance issues being the main reason for relocation.

Then, the Atlanta Thrashers were born in 1999, marking a return for Georgia hockey. Sadly, that also didn’t last long, with the Thrashers’ on-ice struggles (the Thrashers made the playoffs once compared to the Flames making the postseason six times) and poor attendance. As a result, True North Sports bought the team and immediately announced relocation to Winnipeg in 2011.

You can see why hockey fans are skeptical of Atlanta getting another team, specifically with relocation. It would also require re-arranging the NHL yet again. The league underwent a realignment in 2013 (and another in 2020 for COVID reasons) and Bettman isn’t keen on doing it again.

However, there is hope for Georgia hockey fans. Anson Carter has made moves in the business world, purchasing a part of the ECHL team, the Atlanta Gladiators, last October. Guess who’s affiliated with the Gladiators? You guessed it, the Arizona Coyotes.

The TNT broadcaster has expressed interest in getting the NHL back to the Peach State again. With his search for investors happening, it’s brought the controversial topic back to light, similar to the pineapple topping. Does Atlanta deserve another team? The debate rages on.

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