The array of hockey personalities on the ice tonight as the Arizona Coyotes prepare to commemorate twenty years in the Valley of the Sun shows the growing history of professional hockey in Arizona.
We have seen our fair share of colorful personalities, from Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick to Ilya Bryzgalov and Ray Whitney.
We have seen truly memorable moments, from Mike Gartner’s 700th:
To Krys Kolanos’ amazing penalty shot goal against Patrick Roy:
To Shane Doan’s buzzer-beating hat-trick:
To Mike Smith’s 200 foot goal.
We’ve also seen a fair share of heartbreak. Coyotes fans had to watch the Kings - the hockey iteration of the universal rivalry between Phoenix and Los Angeles - raise (or not touch) the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl on Arizona’s ice. We’ve watched as the promising careers of young players like Brett MacLean and Craig Cunningham were tragically cut short. And of course, we’ve churned our stomachs during interminable Glendale City Council meetings, and we’re poised to have more political wrangling this offseason.
But we’ve also seen the proliferation of ice sheets across the state of Arizona. We’ve watched professional hockey reach up to Prescott Valley and down to Tucson. We’ve celebrated the promotion of Arizona State to the highest level of collegiate competition. And we witnessed the hockey capital of the world choose a Scottsdale native with the top pick in the NHL Draft.
In a league that celebrates its Original Six, the Coyotes will never have as a lengthy a history as Montreal, Toronto, and Detroit. But as the hours-long line outside the NHL’s Centennial Tour at Tempe Marketplace suggests, the Coyotes have developed just as much passion, love, and devotion to the game and its history as any other market in the NHL.
For the rest of this season, we’re going to highlight some of our favorite moments from the past two decades. And with our FanPosts section, we’d love to see yours too.
So here’s to 20 years, Coyotes. And here’s hoping for 20 more years of ups, downs, and with just a little bit of luck, a championship.