A Coyote in Sheep’s Clothing?

Division- wise, they completed the season third place in the Western Conference. Point- wise, they finished sixth overall amongst eight teams. Heart- wise, the Phoenix Coyotes may be number one for hockey fans around the globe …

Why is that?

For starters, no one save the players in Phoenix, their fans and the press that follow them – really took the team seriously.

The reason?

The only media attention the squad gathered for the past three seasons was negative due to the ‘ vagabond ‘ label tagged on their hockey sweaters. A Gypsy- esque existence created by the bankruptcy of their former owner and the subsequent ‘sideshow’ that ensued.

Blackberry creator and CEO, Jim Balsillie on May 6 – 2009, issued the following statement just days after the Coyotes’ chief executor officer Jerry Moyles filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

I am excited to move closer to bringing an NHL franchise to what I believe is one of the best unserved hockey markets in the world — southern Ontario. A market with devoted hockey fans, a rich hockey history, a growing and diversified economy and a population of more than seven million people.

Balsillie was rich and in the eyes of hockey fans who believe the game belongs in Canada – was just that; Canadian …

The President of RIM ( Research in Motion ) gave the Coyotes along with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, 212.5 million reasons why the team should be located in Ontario, Canada. Mr. Bettman balked at the ‘ Bal – sillie’- ness of the offer and amid conspiracies, the pair fought back and forth over the sale of the team.

Meanwhile, the fans and the team skated on thin ice…

Loneliness brings Togetherness

You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used.
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse.
When you ain’t got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal.

~ Bob Dylan

While the arrogant Balsillie and the equally pretentious Bettman dueled with their piercing egos, all the attention remained away from the ice surface.

Everyone from Bob Mackenzie at team TSN to Osama Bin Laden at team Al-Qaeda – paid no attention to the quality of the on ice construction with team Coyote. How could a team, that was being run ‘part time’ by the NHL head office, be run efficiently when the NHL itself was run so inefficiently at times – full time?

The Coyotes were deemed dead through the visors of many. Left howling at the side of route 33. The road that leads to Phoenix is not numbered 66 and nobody – especially the Coyotes’ fans; expected to get their ‘ kicks’!

Then something happened.

It’s as if Coyotes’ captain Shane Doan sat down under the ‘cone of silence’ with Maxwell Smart. Together, Doan and agent 86 plotted a plan to dispel the ‘CHAOS’ that became a puck around the team’s neck. A vulcanized weight bringing everyone associated with the team down to a level lower than the real Devil of New Jersey could fathom.

Phoenix rose from the ashes. The burgundy bird took flight as Bettman continued his plight to sell the team to an Arazonian millionaire. ( Balsillie’s offers, it turns out – as silly as Bettman thought).

Belief 101

It began in 2010 with a playoff birth and a love affair with a rag- tag bunch of outcasts and third line skaters. The entire city – taking the team home in their hearts each night. A temporary house for each player to dry their sweaters and ‘air out’ their skates.

After the team bowed out in the first round, somehow it made the Coyotes more lovable. Merchandise at an all- time high. Ticket sales great! More importantly – the team was better as they took to the ice for the start of the 2011-12 season.

Don Maloney, the G.M. and Dave Tippett – the coach, prepared the ‘ yotes’ to play and disregard the rumors of re – location and sale. Even the fans – partly for growing attached and partly for wanting to watch a team for what maybe their final season in Phoenix; showed up every game.

As a howl echoes through the arena with each Phoenix goal, there is a sense throughout the Coyotes’ den something special is happening. After-all, ‘ a homeless man cannot hit rock bottom when he is living on a rock’. There is one way to go for Shane Doan’s team and that direction is toward London, England. The birthplace of the 16th Earl of Derby. Otherwise known as Lord Stanley of Preston

The creator of the Stanley Cup’s relatives have never seen a coyote and they are not sheep- ish to say so …

Day by day, watching you disappear
Wishing that you were still here beside me
On my own, swimming against the tide
There’s nobody on my side but your memory
Then you’ll rise right before my eyes

~ Annihilator

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  1. philippe ouimet

     /  May 8, 2012

    it looks like mr Bettman wins again …for his sake I hope it works out !!!!on the other hand it’s a real slap in the face for Quebec city fans. As a CANADIAN I have mixed emotions like many fans I laboured with the Basillie / Bettman sparing match and the underhanded tactics of the Commish…. and now this!!!! I don’t think that Mr Bettman cares or understands that Hockey is OUR National sport and his pretencious ways of doing buisiness is very upsetting to say the least.

  2. I agree with your sentiments Phil, re Balsillie – Bettman was, in hindsight – right to stop Balsillie. The way the man is / was running RIM – the Hamilton Coyotes would be filing fir bankruptcy right about now 😉

  3. I like the Coyotes, and wish their story of expansion would work, mainly because I like the underdogs and respect Don Maloney a ton.

    I can recall going to their games when they were at America West, ( where the Suns played ) and their stadium was an absolute joke. If you sat on the north end of the rink opposite the zamboni entrance, you could only see half the ice. lol.

    They did have a cool goal song back in the mid 90s ( werewolves of london ) something i heard quite a bit seeing as how the Sharks weren’t too good during that time.

    Greg Jamison looks to be next in line, and if this man gets what he wants he will turn the Coyotes into a winner just as he did with the Sharks and Chuck Grillo / George Gund / Minnesota North Stars.

    Having said all this, I don’t wish to discount the fact that hockey is a Canadian sport, nor am I trying to discredit fans in Canada. But if there’s one story of expansion that deserves to work, it’s the Phoenix story.

  4. I am Canadian and would dearly love to see a team in Quebec and Hamilton. I am also a realist. Teams require immense monies to compete and I agree with you one hundred percent. Phoenix and their fans – deserve the Coyotes financially and emotionally. Quebec, as much as I would love to see the Habs – Nordiques rivalry restored, may not be able to hold a franchise into the future. Like Winnipeg, it’s all a honeymoon right now and as most married men and Women will attest – honeymoons do not last forever. The fans in Quebec will flock to the arena for three seasons. Like Winnipeg, if the team is not winning – the fans will not support a team at 200 bucks a pop. As you know – that is where corporate boxes come in. Does Quebec have enough population and business – wise to support a team through thin along with thick? That is the question Bettman wants answered in Quebec and the reason why he is tentative when discussing the Jets of Winnipeg. The only viable place in Canada, at the moment, to place a team such as Columbus – is Hamilton or the surrounding Toronto area. Population wise , the Hamilton team can draw from Ontario, Detroit and Buffalo. The latter cities providing a rivalry which would guarantee Wings’ fans and Sabre fans the trip to watch their teams play. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs are a monopoly which, as most monopolies – eat their own because they have nothing else to eat. This mentality keeps the Leafs rich and hockey fans poor since Toronto will not allow t.v revenues etc to bite into their territory. A hockey team belongs to a city that loves them from the heart and an owner with integrity.
    Go Phoenix! Thanks for reading! 😉


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