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Don Maloney is feeling good about the Coyotes’ future

It’s been one hell of a ride for the Phoenix Coyotes in the past year. This time last summer there was a campaign by Jim Balsillie to purchase the franchise and move it to Hamilton, as debate raged over the merits of a hockey team in Arizona versus in Canada.

The case eventually went to court and the NHL purchased the team out of bankruptcy. A year later, it doesn’t seem as if we’re any closer to a new owner although we at least have an agreement in place that will keep the Coyotes in Phoenix for one more year.

Today, team president David Moss and general manager Don Maloney spoke to the press today, excited to see ticket sales, suites and season ticket packages selling at a much, much greater rate than last season. From Rebekah L. Sanders of the Arizona Republic:

“The Coyotes are relative again,” Moss said. “This marketplace responded to the playoffs. All we had to do was show we can be competitive.”

Still the team’s success on the ice is critical, Maloney said.

“That’s the only way we can survive,” he said. “There’s work to do to get people to come back. . . . I’m encouraged, though, if we get a good start, we can bring more people here.”

Right now the sale of the team is resting on negotiations between Ice Edge Holdings, the City of Glendale and the NHL but that’s not keeping Maloney from focusing on the season ahead. Fresh off of winning the NHL’s GM of the Year award, Maloney has the tough task of not only keeping these fans they’ve gained in the past year but also making new ones.

It’s amazing what a winning season and a playoff berth will do for a fanbase. Call them fairweather all you want, but there’s no doubt that being proactive in the community and successful on the ice are the only ways hockey will be successful in a town like Phoenix. Or Glendale.