A new expansion team in the Pacific Northwest means the Arizona Coyotes are on the move.
No, not out of state. Out of their division.
The NHL voted to award an expansion NHL franchise to Seattle on Tuesday. The Seattle team will become the NHL's 32nd franchise and will begin play in 2021-22.
Seattle will join the NHL's Pacific Division, which will result in the Coyotes moving from the Pacific to the Central Division in the Western Conference when Seattle begins play. This move will put eight teams in each division in the West.
The Seattle franchise will begin play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and the @ArizonaCoyotes will realign to the Central Division. https://t.co/gYSiUWAreM #NHLSeattle pic.twitter.com/bT9myflZLF
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 4, 2018
"We are happy to welcome Seattle as the NHL's 32nd franchise as the NHL continues to grow the game of hockey throughout North America," Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen said in a statement. "We will work with the League to ensure a smooth transition into the Central Division in time for the 2021-22 season, and we appreciate the League's willingness to assist with logistics and scheduling to make travel as easy as possible between our home in Phoenix and the other Central destinations.
"Our fans should take comfort in knowing they will continue to see us play our Pacific Division rivals multiple times a year, including squaring off with Vegas for desert bragging rights, while also getting to see new rivalries with some legacy franchises. Regardless of what division we are in, our goals remain the same: win on the ice against whomever they put in front of us on the schedule, build Coyotes fandom throughout the entire State of Arizona, and positively impact our Arizona community."
The Coyotes have played in the Pacific Division since the 1998-99 season. The division went from five teams to seven teams after the 2012-13 season when the NHL went from six to four divisions. The Coyotes won their division in the 2011-12, their only division championship in franchise history.