Who Deserves a Team?

Who Deserves a Team?

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Who Deserves a Team?


Often I see comments online that Arizona (or other sunbelt teams) don’t deserve a team, but what does that really mean? Who determines the criteria for which cities are worthy of an NHL team? Some fans seem to think that is their job and will not rest until all hockey is only played in Canada (or Canada and cold weather locations in the US). In reality, only the NHL gets to decide who gets a team. The NHL and all sports are a business. You would never hear a retail outlet like The Gap saying, “Hometown, USA does not deserve a store. We are going to leave”. Businesses weigh everything and make (somewhat) logical decisions. They don’t base it on silly things like the fact that the high in winter is only 50 degrees instead of minus 20.

If the NHL wants a team in Arizona there is a reason why, most likely because Phoenix is the fourth largest TV market. Why wouldn’t they want in on that action? The NHL is going to run through all of their options here before they would ever consider relocating. I can not speak for the Coyotes between 1996- 2005 but since I moved to the valley in 2006, I have seen a multitude of poor management of the team.

With new owners in place, the Coyotes seem to be actually moving in right direction. Only time will tell if this ownership group is better than Moyes. I vividly remember the Moyes days. We had Gretzky as coach and Barnett as GM. Together they made terrible decisions. The new owners had a bad season last year. There seemed to be some communication errors, but it appears the owners and management have gotten on the same page. Yes, going with youth could be a gamble, but I would rather give the younger talent a chance than build a rag-tag bunch of misfits.

There are so many people on social media who feel the Coyotes shouldn’t be in Arizona and everything they do is wrong. Yet when other teams are mentioned, especially Canadian teams, the excuses start flying. They are many of the same things Coyotes fans have said over the years but are told over and over that the Coyotes need to better, they need to be moved and that we don’t deserve a team.

Do these fans actually look at everything the Coyotes have gone through since 2006? Jerry Moyes was a terrible owner and apparently using the team to pay for his airline business. Gretzky couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag. Michael Barnett and others were just here to collect a large paycheck. 2006-2008 was the FOG era, friends of Gretzky. Moyes threw the Coyotes into Bankruptcy in 2008 and there has been instability ever since. You try to run a successful sports franchise when dealing with that kind of turmoil.

The new owners may not be perfect, but they are trying to right the ship. They know Phoenix is a town that only supports winners.

The Arizona Coyotes are going into rebuild mode, but it isn’t expected to be a permanent rebuild. They aren’t throwing money at the problem, spending to the cap isn’t always the answer. The Dodgers and Yankees (and my other team, the Flyers) spend, spend, spend every year and how many world series (or Stanley Cups) have they bought? No, the Coyotes didn’t go crazy during free agency but there wasn’t much to work with. It was stated that Maloney wasn’t given a budget. He could have spent ridiculous amounts of money and the team may or may not have been any better than it is now.

The owners understand that Phoenix only supports winners. They want to put out a winner and there is plenty of pressure here to produce a winner. The fans in Phoenix are desperate to win something besides WNBA and arena football championships. The last time a major sports franchise won was the Diamondbacks in 2001. The Cardinals, Suns and Coyotes have gotten close but every time the Suns and Coyotes start to stink, attendance falls. Dbacks fans recently celebrated hitting .500. The Cardinals are holding onto Palmer as their only hope to lead them to wins. But nope, we are totally not a town that puts any pressure on our sports teams to win.

Obviously, I want the Coyotes (and all other Arizona teams) to win but I realize not every season will be the championship season. I am not entirely happy with this season’s line-up, but I will still continue to support the team. I will still cheer them on and hope for wins. As a fan of this franchise, we need to make due with what we have until all the young guys are ready and able to carry the team and better free agents become available. I will be a fan, even if we lose. I was a season ticket holder during the FOG era, I can make it through a season or two of a rebuild.

I always try to write from a positive place, to look on the bright side. I want the team to do well. Does that mean I always agree with everything management and owners choose to do? No, but I am going to try and see the positive in the future. I try to keep an open mind, to be objective instead of negative. Does that make me a bad fan? Does that mean I don’t deserve a team?

I grew up skating on outdoor creeks and ice rinks. I cross-country skied. I built snowmen and angels as a child (and sometimes a teenager and adult). My school was cancelled due to snow. I know cold, snow and ice. I chose not to stay and headed out for a warmer climate. Do I not deserve a team?

I grew up watching all sports. Saturday morning was Wisconsin Badger football then Badger basketball. Sundays were for the Packers. Yes, I have been to the frozen tundra. Summers meant the Brewers and Cubs were on in the background. I attended my high school’s hockey games and was friends with several of the players. Someone I knew even played hockey for the Badgers and the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers. A close family friend coached hockey. We played floor hockey in gym class. I guess since Wisconsin doesn’t have an NHL team, I don’t deserve a team? But I live in Arizona now. I must not have ever seen ice or hockey before the Coyotes arrived. I don’t deserve a team.

If for some reason the Coyotes were to relocate*, I would still be a hockey fan. I would keep watching the Flyers, my team before I moved to Arizona. I would also keep watching the Badgers, what I consider my hometown team. Would that be ok, or do I not deserve those teams either since I chose to live in Arizona?

*I honestly don’t think this will happen.

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