Originally founded on December 27, 1971, as the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association (WHA), they were one of four franchises absorbed into the National Hockey League after the WHA had ceased operations and then granted membership on June 22, 1979. The Jets moved to Phoenix on July 1, 1996, and were renamed as the Phoenix Coyotes. The franchise finalized a second name change on June 27, 2014, to become the Arizona Coyotes. Alex Meruelo became the majority owner on July 29, 2019.
The team has been known for its instability under prior ownership. The NHL took over operations of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise in 2009 when then-owner Jerry Moyes turned it over directly to the league after declaring bankruptcy. The NHL maintained control of the team until 2013 when they were able to find new ownership willing to keep the franchise in Arizona. Despite their difficult working relationship with the city of Glendale and the use of Gila River Arena, the Coyotes currently have a year-to-year arrangement to play in the facility. As of 2021, they are the oldest franchise to have never played in the Stanley Cup Finals.