The City of Glendale recently updated their website to include a page congratulating the Coyotes on their first round victory over the Blackhawks, and asking fans to show their support for the team. They mention several ways to do that, including e-mailing the city about the team and attending city council meetings. I’ve e-mailed the mayor and council members separately, but perhaps I will send another one now that they’ve asked for them. Perhaps it will go like this…
What the Coyotes Mean to Me
The Coyotes have meant so much to me, and I would be very disappointed if they were to leave. Here are some of the ways they have made my life better:
1. The Coyotes make me proud to be from Arizona. It seems that every time we make the national news, it’s because someone has done something ridiculously stupid (again). Our legislators are passing laws that make other people boycott our state. Our sheriff is getting sued and costing us millions. Our former attorney general is getting disbarred. We have the reputation of being the wild west, only without the cool parts. I’m tired of being the laughingstock of the nation. The Coyotes have people talking about us, but in a good way. I’d hate to see that disappear.
2. The Coyotes give my family something to bond over. Everyone has different interests in my family – video games, reading, bike riding, girly things. The one thing we ALL enjoy doing is talking about and watching the Coyotes play. Even my 7-year old daughter knows the players’ numbers and names. We talk about the last game, the upcoming game, what we think of the latest trade. We joke about “Angry Tippet” and Taylor Pyatt’s blue eyes. With so many families not being able to spend lots of quality time together these days, it’s much appreciated that the team provides family-friendly entertainment.
3. The Coyotes teach a valuable lesson about hard work. Hockey is not an easy sport. It’s the hardest sport I’ve ever tried. There’s so much to be good at that it takes years and years to get good at it all. It looks so easy when you watch the games, but then when you try it yourself – that’s when you realize how many things the players have had to master over the years to get to the point they are at. And it’s a sport where raw talent can’t take you very far at all – you still have to put in the hours of work to get to the NHL level. There isn’t a player on the team that hasn’t spent years at the ice rink mastering skating – and then stick-handling – and then shooting – and then learning how to play as a team. People today are always looking for the easy way out, but hockey is anything but easy. It’s been called a blue-collar sport, where willingness to work and stick to it are absolute requirements. Isn’t this a great lesson for our children to learn?
4. The Coyotes remind me of the importance of moms and dads. That seems like a silly statement (of course moms and dads are important – who would dispute that?) but it really isn’t. When I go to the ice rink, I see the same thing every time – lots of kids carrying big, heavy bags and a hockey stick. Invariably, they are accompanied by a mom or a dad who is just along for the ride. I often see the parents dressing the smallest players, and once that’s done they sit around while their child skates. Sure, it’s no big deal to sit around once in a while as your child takes a lesson or attends an event. But these parents are there every single time. Several times a week. Stick time is often at very early or otherwise inconvenient times – my rink has it at 5:30 am every day. To get really good at hockey, these kids will have to attend many practices, many stick times, many lessons. Every time they do, there is a mom or a dad driving them to the rink, helping them gear up, then waiting for the practice to be over. Every. Single. Time. When I look at the Coyotes on the ice, I can’t help picturing what it take to get each of them to this point. I picture a 5 year old Shane Doan being driven to the rink while his tired parent tries to wake up with a little coffee, only to do it all over again the next day. I picture a 10 year old Ray Whitney, scoring a game-winning goal while his parents sit in the stands, beaming. I picture a 16-year old Keith Yandle, driving himself to the rink for the first time and his parents thinking “FINALLY! Now I can sleep in.” I picture every one of the players as they sign their first NHL contract, their parents happy to see the dream finally coming to fruition. And I picture the parents, sitting in the stands with huge smiles on their faces, watching their son debut in his first NHL game. Parenting is always a sacrifice, but parenting a future NHL hockey player goes way beyond mere sacrifice.
5. The Coyotes give me something to aspire to. After having another child 7 years ago, I have gotten really out of shape. I’m sure there are lots of people in my situation – too little time, too easy to sit in front of a screen and munch mindlessly on junk food. I tried the gym, Zumba, etc. It was OK, but after a while I just didn’t feel like going. Not enough results for the amount of work I put into it. Once I started watching the Coyotes, the wheels started turning in my mind – what would it be like to play? Would I be good at it? Would it be fun? I mulled it over for a few months and then looked into it. It turns out, I’m not the only person learning to play later in life. I found a class and a league, got some equipment, and started going to stick time. I’m on the ice a couple of times a week. I love it. It’s a crazy workout – crazy because it’s fun, crazy because I sweat like nobody’s business and yet somehow don’t even notice that I’m working! I get off the ice exhausted, but can’t wait to go back and do it all again. I look forward to the days when I get to play. And I’ve already seen some changes in my body, after only 6 weeks. I’m still a horrible player – but every time I watch the Coyotes, it makes me want to play and skate so that I can get better. I’ll never be in the NHL, but I don’t care about that. Ray Whitney will be 40 next month – so if he can play a great game at that age, why can’t I have some fun too? With the obesity problem growing each day, it can’t be a bad thing to have a team promoting a sport that is such an intense work-out.
6. The Coyotes are bringing the people of Arizona together. There are so many things we can disagree about – SB1070? Obama? Health Care? Iraq? All of the craziness in the AZ legislature? But one thing everyone is agreeing upon right now is the Coyotes. They are the talk of the town. Total strangers have come up to me when I’m wearing Coyotes gear, just to talk about the game. After the games, people in the parking lot are friendly and willing to let others into the exit lines. People are honking the clapping part of the Let’s Go Coyotes cheer. Even if you’re not a hockey fan, you’ve noticed the team. It’s good to have a safe topic that everyone can talk about without getting peoples’ hackles up.
7. The Coyotes teach the value of teamwork. It’s almost a cliche by now – scoring by committee. But in the Coyotes’ case, it’s absolutely true. Most teams have 1 or 2 star players that everyone just KNOWS are going to score or make a huge play that wins the game for their team. The Coyotes are built differently. When you’re operating on a limited budget, you have to be very careful. Don Maloney doesn’t spend tons of money on the one “Big” contract for the star player that will change the season for the team. He instead gets players with potential, players who can fit into the team and add to it without taking over. The downside of the star player is that when that player is injured or has a bad game, the team can’t really cover for them. But with a true TEAM effort, other players step up to pick up the slack. And they do. The Coyotes have had a ton of injuries this year, yet the team as a whole still manages to win by working together. Who is the star of the team? There are just too many players who have contributed in big ways to name one player. This team works together, and they win or lose together. This team is greater than the sum of its parts – MUCH greater.
8. The Coyotes help build traditions. My son and I go to the games together. We have our traditions – we take a sign to the warm-ups, and we always stand in the same place. We always have a box of red vines at the game – and when we open them (always after the Coyotes have scored their first goal), I have to rub my fuzzy mitten on the licorice. It’s a silly tradition, totally pointless to anyone else – but we enjoy it. We sit in the same seats, say hello to the same people at every game. We listen for certain songs during the game, and we will guess who should score next. That tradition got it’s start on the night of Doan’s hat trick. I said to my son “You know who I haven’t seen score in a while? Shane Doan.” And he scored about 11 seconds later. So now, one of us will say that we haven’t seen Whitney/Vrbata/Pyatt etc. score in a while and oddly enough, sometimes it happens!
The Coyotes contribute quite a bit to my life, and I believe that with this play-off run and the support of the City of Glendale, a new owner could really turn this around. I’m tired of hearing that we don’t “deserve” a team or a cup. The Stanley Cup belongs to the team that earns it, period. Whether there is one fan in the stands or 18,000, it’s the team’s work that will win the cup. But we should certainly ask ourselves – with all of the work the Coyotes do to make us proud, wouldn’t it be nice to return the favor and show them that we acknowledge their work and loyalty to the city?