Hockey Biz

March 15, 2013

Paul Bissonnette and Scotty Upshall

Biz and Scotty
“Gladiator Movie”?

After riding an unprecedented and spectacular three game point streak, Coyotes enforcer Paul Bissonnette seems to be back to his role as a healthy scratch. Biz (Bis?) is more famous for his @BizNasty2point0 400,000+ follower Twitter account than his work on the ice which, to my untrained hockey eye, showed marked improvement this season. Biz is a funny guy, that’s for sure, and is the “go to” player for quotes and for DJ’ing the locker room. He’s no stranger to partying, after all he’s a young guy with a lot of disposable income. I hear that the ladies are often fascinated with NHL hockey players and Biz, with his wit and black underwear, is a natural for being a popular guy in the clubs.

Twitter and fists and shenanigans are the Biz stories the hockey press focuses on if they bother to cover a Coyotes story at all. He’s a fan favorite because of his behavior, as well, there are fewer Biz haters in the arena than Yandle haters on any given night at the rink, for certain.

There’s more to his story than that, though.

Biz 3.0

Coyotes Charities posted a picture on their Facebook page that made a real impression on me. Click on it to “embiggen” the picture. What struck me was the expression on Bissonnette’s face (complete with black eye from losing a fight on the ice), I imagine it might also strike you as genuine and unguarded. It’s not a posed publicity photo designed to gather Karma points for a professional hockey player, it’s real. Real is good and rarer than it should be.

Paul Bissonnette hosts CASS - March 4, 2013

Paul Bissonnette hosts CASS – March 4, 2013

Biz fancies himself something of a fashion plate in the limited edition sneaker mold, so it’s natural he’d hook up a company to showcase his own line of gear. Sauce Hockey has a BizNasty line (click here to shop) of T Shirts, caps and a cardigan. I’m not completely clear on the business arrangement that Sauce has with Biz, but it’s certain that a bunch of the proceeds are used to benefit homeless people through “@SauceHockey Feeds The Homeless”. Sauce also is working to set up Healthy Scratch Foundation.

Paul has been a benefactor for Central Arizona Shelter Services, http://www.cassaz.org/ for some time. The photograph dominating this post is from the March 4th game where Biz made it possible for families from the Vista Colina Family Shelter to take some time out and enjoy an NHL hockey game. We’ve been sitting in a nearby section for some time now, and have seen Biz’s “people” at many more games. This isn’t a rare occurrence, in other words, and there isn’t much fanfare involved.

It’s a fourth line guy making a difference in his community and not looking for slaps on the back.

Biz is only one of the stories of the Coyotes hockey club that could be told instead of the constant barrage of attendance, bankruptcy and ownership words that are the fodder for the hockey press. That press machine, including the “blogosphere” and other secondary “press” outlets are, unfortunately, fed by our local people showing interest in the sensationalist story that will garner the most eyeballs with the least amount of effort. Then it’s on to the next story.

Finding the good story is more difficult. I haven’t done a great job here, but after all I have a full time job that doesn’t involve covering sports or news. So what’s the real story that people are missing?

The Rest Of The Story

The success of the Dodge “farmer” Super Bowl ad (click here) demonstrates that people will, in general, be interested and perhaps even moved by honest “feel good” information. I’m amazed, frankly, that the story of the Phoenix Coyotes hasn’t begun making the rounds as an inspirational story. Perhaps it’s simply that the “end” of the story won’t be written until the ownership fiasco is straightened our. But, I doubt it.

The inspirational sports books that some of us read during our formative years have nothing on the Coyotes story. If Steve and Ed Sabol (NFL Films) got hold of the Coyotes story people would be transfixed. Why? It’s the underdog, blue collar sports story of the young century.

That's our Captain

That’s our Captain

Besides Biz, the Coyotes have Shane Doan as their Captain. As the lockout was being resolved, it became apparent to some that perhaps Doaner should be considered the Captain of the NHL, not just the Coyotes. Look for Todd Walsh’s Fox Sports Arizona “In My Own Words” piece on Doaner (premiering 3/25 with a preview at the Ice Den on 3/23) to MAYBE answer some of the “how much involvement did you have in the lockout resolution” question. Shane’s humility makes this unlikely at best. Watch it anyway, Fox Sports does a great job for the Coyotes.

Don Maloney was GM of the year in 2010. Why? He was instrumental in resurrecting the Coyotes and he did it under circumstances that could easily be described as impossible.

Dave Tippett won the Jack Adams (NHL coach of the year) award in 2010, the same year Shane Doan won the King Clancy (outstanding leadership contributions) award. Why? Same reason, after being fired by the Dallas Stars he came to Glendale and managed to get the Coyotes into contention under impossible circumstances.

January 31st marked a deadline in a more than 18 month effort by Greg Jamison to purchase the team and have a successful long term relationship with Glendale. In the midst of that, legislative and other roadblocks were put in front of him and he never quit, he STILL hasn’t quit. Shouldn’t that also be inspirational in a day when people so easily quit at the first bump in the road regardless of one’s personal feelings about why it failed?

During that 18 months, a group of regular fans, all but one of whom had never been involved with grassroots politics, saw a need to jump in and help keep their team and their Captain in town. They succeeded in defeating three separate efforts to derail the Coyotes, any one of which would have been enough to move the team.

A Glendale councilmember “took one for the team” quite literally, sticking to her principles regarding the Coyotes and the arena lease deal despite all of the signs that it would cost her politically. She did it for her city, not for the Coyotes, but the result was the same. It, among other things, did cost her and she’s now a private citizen.

The Coyotes are a team without an official “star” player, they’re a blue collar “everybody contributes” team that has now taken to making the playoffs every year. Last year the team won the Pacific Division championship. This year, despite a lockout and continuing disastrous disappointments on the ownership front, the team remains in the hunt for the playoffs and attendance has INCREASED.

There’s plenty more, too.

Why doesn’t that make our team THE inspirational team story of the NHL if not professional sports?

Maybe the entire team needs to get on Twitter?