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Under Pressure: Coyotes fans

Sep 19, 2013, 11:48 AM EDT

Nashville Predators v Phoenix Coyotes - Game One Getty Images

“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Phoenix Coyotes, we pick…their fans.

After what seemed like a hundred-year saga, the Coyotes finally got new owners this summer, narrowly avoiding a move out of the desert, possibly to Seattle or Portland.

However, the deal did come with a catch — should cumulative losses reach $50 million after five years, ownership is allowed to trigger an out clause in its arena-lease agreement with the city of Glendale and explore relocating the team.

Predictably, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has downplayed this aspect.

“I don’t understand all the attention that it’s getting,” Bettman said on Arizona Sports 620. “The fact of the matter is that every contract has a term. This term, for it to be invoked, requires the ownership group to lose $50 million, which I assure you they have no intention of doing.”

Maybe not, but the last owner of the Coyotes that wasn’t the NHL, Jerry Moyes, probably didn’t intend to lose millions of dollars either, and he eventually put the team into bankruptcy.

The new CBA should help the bottom line, with enhanced revenue-sharing. But, ultimately, it will be up to Coyotes fans to support the club. Combine the out clause with plans for new arenas in places like Seattle, Quebec City, Markham (suburban Toronto), and Las Vegas, and the franchise remains among the NHL’s future relocation candidates.

And you know what? Forget the out clause. Forget the possibility of relocation. What about just proving that Arizona can support an NHL team like other fan-bases? What about putting the days of half-empty arenas in the past? What about sticking it to all the people, fans and media alike, who’ve ridiculed the idea of a hockey team in the desert?

Which is to say, everyone is watching, Coyotes fans. You got what you wanted. Now it’s your turn to prove the doubters wrong.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

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