Does Hockey Belong in the Desert?
In Arizona, it is rare to find a resident who was actually born in the state of Arizona. It seems everyone is from somewhere else. So when they first started talking about bringing hockey to the desert, it kind of made sense. After all, hockey was not new in the desert. We had the Roadrunners dating back to 1974. But this hockey was a little different. This was the NHL.
The Phoenix Coyotes hit the ice and had a following. The then-named America West Arena wasn't the greatest place to see a hockey game (so I'm told), but the Coyotes made the playoffs and the "white out" was born. Under the leadership of Keith Tkachuk, the Coyotes finished 38-37-7.
As time has passed since that first year, hockey in the desert has faded like an Arizona sunset. The Coyotes blistered the city of Scottsdale by snubbing them and building the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. Many wondered why a team called the PHOENIX Coyotes would move to Glendale.
The city of Glendale thought they had stolen the show. With the Arizona Cardinals building their new stadium in the same area, Glendale thought they would become the pro sports Mecca of Arizona.
Little did Glendale realize that the Coyotes would forget that fans appreciate winning and could care less who the coach is. Although Gretzky is "The Greatest," he doesn't strap on skates any longer. He wears a suit and tie to the games, and fans are forced to watch a team struggle. They bet on Gretzky (usually a safe bet with him as a player) and lost with him as a coach.
Now hockey in the desert looks like it will come to an end. Jobing.com is virtually vacant on any hockey game night, but filled with concert-going fans on any other night. The Coyotes have failed to pay their bills and are struggling through bankruptcy.
And now the NHL wants to move the team out of the desert. Is it safe to say that hockey does not belong in a desert? I attended two games since the Coyotes arrived. I could become a fan, but something didn't click. Click the way that after a Suns game, everyone in the office talks about the game.
No one talked about the Coyotes. No one watched the game on TV. Although they had a fan following, it was small numbers compared to the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks.
I say move the team. And as the Coyotes pack their belongings (and change their name) everyone needs to remember this time in which the desert had a hockey team. Hockey belongs back East where ice freezes car doors shut.
Hockey belongs in Canada where children grow up dreaming of being their local hockey star. Hockey belongs in foreign countries, where it seems most of the hockey players are from anyway. But as the Phoenix Coyotes have proven, hockey does not belong in the desert!
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