Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Mike Sadowski contacted former City Of Glendale Council Member Joyce Clark and shared his story. Joyce, in turn, posted it on Facebook. We contacted Mike and asked if we could share his chronicle on Five For Howling; he agreed. So without further ado, Mike's tale:
I am from a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada (I know…hear me out) currently living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When the Jets (1.0) moved to Phoenix in 1996, I was 8 years old. I don’t remember why (possibly because of the awesome jerseys), but I immediately decided Phoenix was my team from the start. From the ages of 8-13, I listened to every single Coyotes game on internet radio. It was always very special during playoffs, when I could actually watch the Coyotes games on TV. When I turned 13, my parents finally decided to start buying the NHL Center Ice package for me. I don’t believe I have missed watching a Coyotes game since. Even games I couldn’t watch, I would record, and watch it later. I have received a lot of grief from my friends over the years as they just can’t understand why my favorite team would be the Phoenix Coyotes. The common fans around here are Oilers, Flames, and Leafs, but I think that is what I like. Here, the Coyotes are mine. It feels like they are my team. All I really need in life to make me happy is a big screen TV with the Coyotes game on, and a cold pint a beer to go with it.
Trips to Glendale:
In 2011 after graduating University and getting a job, the first thing I did was save money so I could go to Phoenix. In the 2011 Playoffs against the Red Wings my dream finally came true, as I flew down to Glendale for games 3 and 4. The feeling I got when I saw Westgate and the fountains outside of Jobing.com arena (the ones I had seen on TV for so many years) was indescribable. Though that series did not turn out well, it was a great experience. Since then, I have been to Glendale two more times, once in November 2011 with 7 other friends, and in April last year for the unreal series against the Hawks.
Phoenix Fans and Attendance:
After going to Phoenix three times, this is the opinion I have formed on the fan base. The fans that I talk to and meet, are all diehards. The STH and the fans that go to the games are some of the most passionate fans I’ve seen. Then on the other hand, a lot of people I talk to probably couldn’t tell me what icing means (the waitress at the Yard House in Westgate asked me what sport the Coyotes are). It almost seems like there are two extremes of people; Diehard fans, and non-fans, no middle ground of casual fans. However, I have seen the fans that are out there on TV. I remember seeing the games at the old AWA on TV, and that building was rocking almost every night. The move to Glendale along with ownership saga has really hurt that fan base. But I for one know that it is there. Nobody ever gives Phoenix credit, but drawing 15k and over for that many years in a terrible AWA arena, with terrible ownership is very impressive. And then even after the move to Glendale, 14-15K average with some of the worst teams in the NHL through the non-playoff (Mike Barnett) era. If it’s worth anything, I give Phoenix fans full marks for that.
The last 4 years as a Coyotes fan have been the toughest, yet most exciting times in their history in my opinion. The play on the ice has been incredible, which I attribute to 3 things: Dave Tippet, Shane Doan, and the "Us against the world" philosophy. Over the last 4 years the players, and us the fans have both lived under that philosophy. People here have gone from grinding my gears about being a Phoenix fan, to repeatedly asking me if I am excited the Coyotes might move to Canada? My answer? Nope. I am the furthest thing from "Every team should be in Canada". If you truly love the NHL, then you should want it to continue to grow. The only way that is possible is to get hockey on the map in markets that aren’t already hockey crazy. I always explain it to people like this:
If you operated a lemonade stand, and you were doing quite reasonable, would you be content, or would you take your earnings, and open up another lemonade stand in a different City that’s never had lemonade to try and grow your market? We all know Canadians love hockey. So should the NHL be content with that, and sell the game to the target market? Or try and increase the size of that market?
I live in Saskatoon, which has never had NHL hockey (came close in 1992). Yes, 99.9% of everyone here loves hockey. I am sure we would fill then building every night if a team came here. But if the NHL put a team here, would they gain any new fans? Or just please existing ones? In a place like Phoenix, the NHL has a chance to increase the amount of fans the league has, and grow the business.
First of all, don’t even listen to these losers; it’s a waste of your time. I understand people in Quebec want a team back, because they are a passionate fan base. But to wish for a team is one thing, to pray for the demise of another team in order to get yours, is another. However don’t let that group of trolls ruin your opinion on Canadian fans. Of course in times like this, the only people you will see and hear are the negative ones. That’s what social media does, it allows people to voice their opinions to anyone while hiding safely behind their computer screen, and unfortunately Coyotes fans will only hear the negative opinions. I can tell you that in Saskatchewan there are a lot of people believing the Coyotes should get every chance to stay in Arizona. Anyone with common sense will route for a fan base to keep their team. I find it especially troubling that people from Quebec City can route for the Coyotes to relocate, when they know exactly the pain that causes to the fans. When Atlanta moved to Winnipeg a lot of people were very excited. But the first thoughts should have been, that’s too bad it didn’t work out for the fans in Atlanta.
Meeting Shane Doan:
Equipment Manager Stan Wilson is from Melfort, Saskatchewan. And through a friend of a friend I was able to get in touch with him the last time I was in Phoenix and get a dressing room tour from him. So here’s my experience meeting Shane Doan, as it was a memorable one, this story was read on NHL XM radio:
Last November on the eve of American Thanksgiving, myself and 8 other friends flew down to Phoenix from Saskatoon, and attended the Coyotes win over the Ducks. I had arranged a dressing room tour through a friend of a friend with long time equipment manager of the Coyotes Stan Wilson. To my disappointment, by the time we got into the dressing room after the game was over, all the players had already left for home...or so I thought.
As I was getting a tour of the room, I took a peak through the gym window, and recognized none other than Shane Doan, working out in the gym, hours after a game, the night before thanksgiving, when all teammates had left.
He noticed me, and came out, and had a friendly chat with me and my 7 friends for no shorter than 20 minutes. He even went as far as to comfort me in my nerves over the ownership problems.
This meeting left no doubt in my mind why Shane is regarded the way he is, and why he is the best Captain in sports. See my picture attached!
Where we are today:
I’ll be honest, for the first time in this saga, I am worried. On January 31st as the clock ticked down on Jamison I dove into the liquor because I was almost certain that would mean the end of the Coyotes. But for some reason I woke up on the 1st with some renewed confidence. It might be stupid confidence, I don’t know. But it’s there. So here are my thoughts on where we are today, and where it’s going.
1. First thing I noticed’ Weirs isn’t as dumb as I thought. To me, he seems like a guy that’s going to get this settled one way or another. Mayor Slugs allowed the process to move as fast as her nickname. Also, Chavira doesn’t have a clue where he is. Has no knowledge of what is going on.
2. Any lease deal with Glendale will only pay AMF 6M or less. This could change if they do finally figure out what it costs to run the arena. But Sherwood finally stepped up and started the process they should have done long ago. Put out and RFP, asking for proposals to run the arena.
Figure out what that will cost, and you can negotiate with any potential owners based on that fee.
3. To help clear the mess in Glendale however, they should hire a completely separate person to run the arena. Send out an RFP looking for an arena manager. Hire him/her. Any negotiations with potential owners would simply be: If you buy the Coyotes, you can rent the arena from the City for usage, and you get to keep all revenue from concessions and ticket sales during Coyotes games. Keep it simple.
4. Exactly like Martinez said yesterday, the Coyotes right now have about 4 months here. It’s a short window, but it’s a window. I believe it can be done in this short time. Somebody can simply step in, and make a proposal on a lease agreement, based off of the Jamison agreement, with their own changes. I believe that can happen and I am hoping it will. However if it doesn’t, I am almost 100% certain the team will be leaving in July.
I rambled a bit there, but I haven’t had a chance to discuss all of this with anyone around me because nobody up here has the knowledge to talk about this with me, so it’s nice to get it out. I wish I could help all of you in your fight to save the Yotes, but there’s not much I can do. So I would like to thank all of you that have put a lot of effort in to help keep my beloved Coyotes in Arizona. Joyce Clark, Bea Wyatt, George Fallar, Dave Zorn, Greg Dunaway, Tim Greene, Kaleb Reedy, Carly and so on. I don’t know if you have all helped, but those are the people I follow on twitter and keep me the most up to date.
I am flying down to Glendale again in April for three games, so if anyone would like to have some drinks and talk Coyotes with us in Westgate before or after a game, I’ll more than likely be at the yard house.
Keep up the Coyotes talk on twitter everyone, I enjoy reading it, and it keeps me updated. Have faith things will work out!
You can follow Mike on Twitter @desertdog17.