And just like that, the tables seem to be set for a matchup of unlikely underdogs in the Western Conference finals. After the eliminations of the perennial favorites in the West (Detroit, Vancouver, San Jose, and Chicago) the teams receiving the most buzz were the now top-seeded Blues and the red hot Predators, but both teams now find themselves in 0-2 holes – and don’t plan on them finding an easy way out.
Yes, they still play hockey in Arizona.
And yes, 8 seeds are invited to participate in the playoffs as well. This isn’t the NFL or MLB.
The World Hockey Association (WHA) would only last for a total of seven seasons, from 1972 to 1979, but when it folded, the NHL absorbed four of the league’s most successful teams: the New England Whalers (turned Hartford Whalers, turned Carolina Hurricanes), the Quebec Nordiques (turned Colorado Avalanche), the Edmonton Oilers, and the Winnipeg Jets (now our Phoenix Coyotes).
The Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996, but even since the franchise’s inaugural season in the NHL, things have not been easy. Forget the fact that they’ve never hoisted a Stanley Cup. Before this season, the franchise had only made it out of the first round of the playoffs twice (as the Jets in ’85 and ’87) and had never even won a division title. Then for a couple of years it looked like the franchise would be on the move again with team owner Jerry Moyes declaring bankruptcy in 2009.
But the NHL bought the rights to the Coyotes and decided to keep them in their warm-climate home, and because of this choice, Phoenix fans have a lot to be thankful for.
This year’s Coyotes not only edged out their Pacific division crown and knocked out an extremely talented Chicago team in the first round, but they look well on their way towards a date in the Western Conference Finals.