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Phoenix native Knies 'not too happy' about Coyotes relocation rumors

Rich Graessle / National Hockey League / Getty

Phoenix native Matthew Knies is "not too happy" with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Arizona Coyotes.

"It's pretty unfortunate, the Coyotes did a lot for me growing up," the Toronto Maple Leafs rookie told reporters Thursday. "I loved going to the games, it was kind of a big reason why I got into hockey.

"That kind of situation is out of my control. I'm hopeful that they can stay there because it meant a lot to me. I guess we're going to have to see what happens."

Reports surfaced on Wednesday suggesting that the Coyotes could move to Utah as soon as next season. An announcement regarding the relocation could drop as soon as April 18.

Arizona has been home to an NHL team ever since the original Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996.

Relocation rumors have been looming over the Coyotes for decades, but the speculation reached new heights after the franchise's lease at Glendale's Gila River Arena ended in 2022. The team moved to the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena at Arizona State University at the start of last season as a stopgap, but plans to find a new home to remain in the desert have not yet come to fruition.

Despite years on shaky ground, Knies said minor hockey in Arizona is "definitely growing."

"I think when I was growing up, it wasn't the hockey hotbed Colorado or Chicago or Detroit was," he said. "But it was definitely growing, and you could see the potential there. And I think the Coyotes were a big part of that. It's definitely gotten a lot better, and I know a lot of kids are starting to pick up a hockey stick now. It's just really good to see."

Knies isn't the only Arizona product on the Maple Leafs' roster. Superstar Auston Matthews, who hails from Scottsdale, addressed the murky situation after his team's 6-5 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

"Selfishly, growing up there, them being a big part of me getting into hockey, I'd love for them to figure it out," he said, per the Canadian Press' Joshua Clipperton. "But you kinda understand the position the NHL is in as well."

The Maple Leafs selected Knies in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft. He's racked up 15 goals and 35 points in 77 games so far this campaign.

The 21-year-old said there's "been learning curves" during his first full season in the big leagues.

"I think I've made some mistakes, but I think I've come back from that," he said. "I think I've grown a lot in my game and matured a lot. ... It's only getting better."

The Maple Leafs clinched their eighth consecutive playoff berth on Friday.

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