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Coyotes plan name change to Arizona

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Next season, the Phoenix Coyotes will become known as the Arizona Coyotes.

The team announced the name change on Wednesday but said no major alterations would be made to the players' sweaters. A shoulder patch will be added to the home and road jerseys starting in the 2014-15 preseason.

"Becoming the Arizona Coyotes makes sense for us since we play our games in Glendale and the city is such a great partner of ours," Coyotes co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said in a statement. "We also want to be recognized as not just the hockey team for Glendale or Phoenix, but the team for the entire state of Arizona and the Southwest.

"We hope that the name 'Arizona' will encourage more fans from all over the state, not just the Valley, to embrace and support our team."

The Coyotes came into existence in 1996 when the Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona. In the summer of 2013, after the NFL had stepped in to operate the team for four years, a deal was reached to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, avoiding a possible relocation of the franchise to another city.

The Coyotes (25-18-10) are fighting for a spot in the playoffs this season. Going into a home game on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres, Phoenix sits in ninth place in the Western Conference standings.

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