The loss was painful, but our team played well on the ice and the right players look to be starting their hot streaks in time for the playoffs. We still felt really good on the ride home, for some reason a tough loss wasn’t killing our mood as much as usual.
This morning I figured out why.
We Have HOCKEY Owners
I wasn’t aware that Bruins fans were as idiotic as Canuckleheads when it comes to patting their goaltender on the back. The predictable “Tuuuuuuuu” rising from dorks wearing yellow every time Rask was within 40 feet of a puck was a revelation to me.
Years of practice with mocking “Looooooooo” chants that annoy both goalie and associated crowd toadies helped me loudly offer “Tuuuuuuuu”, hoping others would join the festivities. Over my left shoulder I heard something to the effect of:
“Sir, you will have to keep it down!”
It was not the first time I’ve heard a statement like that directed at me at a game.
I turned around, ready to offer something in the “This isn’t church, it’s a hockey game” vein and was surprised and happy to see it was a smiling Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc. Great stuff.
I think it’s pretty cool when an NHL owner is into the game at the moment, “gets” the “Tuuuuuuuuu” chirp, and offers a chirp of his own to me, just a semi-normal fan having a great time at a sold out game.
Anthony, by the way, was in the lower bowl to personally deliver autographed pucks to people that had renewed their season tickets. An NHL owner doing that and taking the time to shake hands and chat with the people buying tickets for his show just doesn’t happen that often.
We Have HOCKEY Owners Part Two
Another of the ownership crew, George Gosbee, has been known to vacate the suite level to watch games in the lower bowl with everybody else. We intruded between periods a few games ago and asked him why he was hanging out downstairs.
“I just wanted to watch some hockey.”
We used to see Mike Nealy and, before him, Doug Moss roaming the lower bowl with some regularity. That was also great. But, this is different.
Now the NHL doesn’t own the team and now the Coyotes aren’t a real estate investment or a tax loss bucket.
Now, the Coyotes are a full-fledged NHL hockey team with full-fledged hockey fans in charge of the checkbooks.
Before much longer, the component of attendance and revenue watching will be removed from the requirements of being a Coyotes fan. We’re not there yet, and the fall elections in Glendale may bring another round of annoyances from the usual suspects. Once that day is past, there will no longer be the need for a tweet like the following:
Tonight we have broken the reg season single game franchise revenue record, 4th time this year. Thanks #Coyotes fans! (& our Boston friends)
— Anthony LeBlanc (@anthonydleblanc) March 23, 2014
So, for the fourth time in this inaugural season of the new age Coyotes, a single game revenue record was broken. Jobing.com was sold out, standing room tickets were sold.
Were there a lot of Bruins jerseys in the crowd? Yes.
We live in a RESORT AREA where people from the United States and Canada come to escape their frozen existence for a few days. Lots of people move here from other areas, some of them are hockey markets. Visitors are more than welcome, many of us locals MAKE OUR LIVINGS from visitors.
Local Hockey Growing
We had the pleasure of watching Arizona’s own Olympic hockey Silver Medalist Lyndsey Fry drop the puck at the game last night.
Couldn’t have asked for a better night. Thank you so much to the @phoenixcoyotes and all the fans for an amazing experience!
— Lyndsey Fry (@fry_X_cycle) March 23, 2014
Paralympic Gold Medal winner Josh Sweeney grew up in Arizona, played high school hockey in Glendale, and had the game winning goal in the gold medal game.
— Joshua Sweeney (@SledSweeney13) March 19, 2014
Arizona State University took the ACHA National Championship trophy after posting a 32-2-0 record and being ranked number one in the country.
Kids Running Around With Hockey Sticks
We arrived later than usual, but managed to take a lap around the tailgate in Lot G. The inflatable rink the Coyotes use for street hockey was FULL of kids running around playing hockey. FULL.
We were already jazzed, coming from another successful Desert Hockey Development FREE Kids Hockey Clinic at the Bonsall Park rink in Glendale. Every time we have held a clinic there are a significant number of new kids showing up to investigate hockey. Most of them return.
The Coyotes are ramping up their efforts in this vein, getting hockey sticks into the hands of as many kids as possible. They’re going to all the local schools, offering ice hockey and coaching clinics, and running full throttle growing the game from the ground up in Arizona.
One of the common knocks against the current Coyotes is that this is all a charade and the team is moving in a few years.
Obviously, the kids learning how to play street hockey won’t be NHL players within five years, nor will they be buying tickets to games. A logical person without a warped agenda could ask themselves why the Coyotes organization invest so much effort, time, money, people, and reputation into a project that won’t pay off for at least a decade?
They wouldn’t, is the answer untinted by negative agenda.