Such a shame. Just such a huge shame.
The Phoenix Coyotes needed this series to be a rallying point. They needed it to gain favorable opinion, and they needed it big time. Ever since the team moved to Phoenix, the team and its ownership have lost considerable amounts of money. There were years that the "Desert Dogs" were completely forgotten about.
The team was located in a bad spot from the very beginning, not to mention tooled with very average players. The only real glory years they could look back to were their beginnings in the late 90s. The team gained tons of popular support. Plenty of fans came out to take part in the White Out. They were Phoenix fans, too. They wanted their team to win. And they had some good pieces, too. Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk and Rick Tocchet, along with Nikolai Khabibulin in net.
But it was never enough.
Now, the Coyotes finally have such a great team in front of them. They have tons of youth and jump in their step. Keith Yandle has exploded on the scene as one of the most underrated defensemen in the entire league. Former third overall pick Kyle Turris is rounding into form. Mikkel Boedker has plenty of upside. Hobey Baker winner and Norton Sports Management client Andy Miele has plenty of upside himself.
Case in point, the Coyotes have pieces on both ends of the rink. Ilya Bryzgalov suffered in this playoff series and didn't play well at all. Let's not forget though, he is a quality goaltender. He has registered a .920+ save percentage in three of his four seasons in Phoenix. He's darn good and worth keeping.
I know what you're going to say. The perception is that Phoenix does not have any fans. They don't have the long-term financial backing. The NHL has had to run the team since their file for bankruptcy in 2009.
I'm not even going to attempt to understand the nitty gritty all of the legal battles going on between the Goldwater Institute, Matthew Hulsizer, Jerry Reinsdorf, and the NHL. But I do understand is that the Coyote die-hards want this team to stay.
And, perhaps more importantly, so does the NHL.
Sure, Canada has their pride. Winnipeg wants their team back. Canadians want more teams in the Great White North. To that, I say that we need to give Phoenix just one more shot. If it were my team, I would fire whoever markets that team. That team does not have a competent marketing department. They need more casual fans to become more established fans.
The Coyotes needed this series to be a rallying point. They have unfortunately run into the wily and experienced Detroit Red Wings two seasons in a row. It has not given the Coyotes the chance to establish a real rivalry against a team by playing a hard-fought playoff series. Truly unfortunate circumstances.
With this threat of movement, if the Coyotes are offered one more year, we will see the mettle of not only the team, but the fans as well. We know they exist. We know they are emotional. Just look at the faces of the fans after the game, bursting into tears. Just think if your most beloved team were forced to move. I sure would not like the Flyers going anywhere any time soon.
I just hope that this isn't the last time we see the Phoenix Coyotes take the ice at Jobing.com arena.
After all, I happen to like those alternate jerseys.