Monday night I had the opportunity to sit high above the ice at Jobing.com Arena in the Phoenix Coyotes press box.
From the drop of the puck to the final horn, I saw something that has been missing from the Valley for over a decade. I saw a great hockey team on the ice with a coyote on their chest. (Although it’s easier to tell it’s a coyote now than it was a decade ago.)
At numerous points during the game, the team on the ice evoked memories of Coyotes teams that included the likes of Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, and Nikolai Khabibulin. They were exciting, skilled, well coached and most importantly, winners.
The 6-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers gave the Yotes their 36th win of the season. That may not seem like a big deal, but 36 wins matches their entire total from last season. It also is only two victories shy of their highest total since the 2001-02 season and is only four wins short of the most wins the franchise has had since moving from Winnipeg.
There is something special going on in Glendale. Something so special that playoffs no longer seems like a “bad word.”
There’s plenty of room for optimism and excitement within the organization. Unfortunately that excitement hasn’t spread beyond Phoenix’s hardcore hockey fanatics.
The Coyotes organization is suffering from what I like to call, “Phoenix Fan Attention Deficit Disorder.”
PFADD is a disorder that every franchise in the Valley has struggled to overcome at one point or another. It can never fully be cured, but it can be controlled through specific routines.
This disorder is a result of the attitude of the fans that call Phoenix home. These fans are a fickle, transplanted, and transient bunch (Present company excluded. If you are reading this you obviously don’t fit that category). Their attention span is short and in order to grab it, you must not only battle with the teams that call Arizona home but also the teams from their hometown.
In order to break the spiral of PFADD teams have to follow a specific routine.
- Have a compelling story
- Be accessible to the fans
- Get exposure on TV, radio, and the Web
- Have a superstar fans can get behind
- Do it all at a time when no other team is having huge success
If, and only if, a team reaches all of those criteria for a prolonged period of time, can they control the disorder.
The Phoenix Coyotes have all but one of those factors.
They are certainly winning. There is no story in professional sports more compelling than what the Coyotes have gone through in the last 10 months. They are so accessible to fans, that they even play beer pong with regular guys. They’ve gained additional exposure on TV, radio, and online, so much so that their television ratings have increased by 50 percent from last year. To top it off, they’re doing it all with the Suns on the downside of their championship run.
The one thing the Coyotes don’t have is a bonafide superstar, no disrespect to Shane Doan. They don’t have that one player whose personality transcends the game and entices the fans. Unfortunately, outside of Washington and Pittsburgh, the NHL is lacking those players in general. You can’t blame the Coyotes for that.
Dave Tippett , Don Maloney , and the players have all done their jobs. They’ve done everything they can to control their case of Phoenix Fan Attention Deficit Disorder and it’s now time for fans to do their part.
There’s something special going on in Glendale that is worthy of fans’ attention regardless of the length of drive or any other excuses. It seems like the NHL playoffs will make its first appearance in Glendale. Hopefully that won’t be the first time many fans appear there too.
PFADD is a horrible thing that has hindered many franchises in Phoenix throughout the years. It’s a shame that it’s something the Coyotes have to battle right now after everything they’ve overcome.
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