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NHL

The Arizona Coyotes Really Aren’t Helping Their Case

Detail of the Arizona Coyotes logo during the NHL game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Gila River Arena on January 22, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona.
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Earlier today Ratto covered the only reason for the Arizona Coyotes’ existence, prompted by Katie Strang’s in-depth investigation for The Athletic on the NHL franchise’s dysfunction. The team initially declined to comment but released a lengthy statement after Strang published her report, and it’s worth recognizing on its own, because it’s going to accomplish the opposite of its desired effect.

In her article, Strang laid out many examples of how the Coyotes have gone wrong, including unpaid bills, toxic office politics, and the process behind the decision to draft a prospect who had been convicted of bullying a developmentally disabled, black classmate. The team’s statement, which doesn’t dispute any actual facts in the story, claims that the sources used are all “disgruntled ex-employees who have proven to be untrustworthy and lacking in candor.” Again, the Athletic spoke with “more than 50 people, including current and former employees that span multiple departments as well as people who have business relationships with the club.” If all of those sources are disgruntled and untrustworthy, what does that say about the Coyotes’ hiring process and treatment of their workers?

The Coyotes’ statement mainly defends the honor of team owner Alex Meruelo, claiming he is no deadbeat, but that he is the target of a “harassment campaign” by Strang and her publication. Somehow the team fails to mention that Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is also featured in the article, threatening to blackball Strang while she was reporting:

In November, agitated that organizational information had been obtained by The Athletic, Armstrong contacted this reporter, offering a theory that his daily schedule and other files had been stolen from his computer. He warned that the person who he surmised was responsible would be going to jail. After delivering a lecture on journalism ethics, Armstrong asked this reporter what she thought would happen if he were to tell general managers around the league how she did her job.

The Athletic

Surely the Coyotes’ pissbaby statement will keep anyone else from reading about how mismanaged and broken they are as a professional sports team. They might as well have included a direct link to Strang’s story.