Coyotes should not have to play road games in Glendale
Growing up an Arizona Cardinals season ticket holder, I went to plenty of games where we were outnumbered by the opposing team's fans. So what I saw Tuesday night was, unfortunately, nothing new.
Jobing.com Arena was a sea of blue shirts, as Vancouver Canucks fans made up a high percentage of the 16,691 people in attendance. They came hoping to see the best team in hockey leave with a win, but instead saw the hottest team in the league finish the month of February with a 2-1 shootout win.
Needless to say, Canucks fans were fairly quiet on the way out of the building.
"It was nice," Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith said of sending non-Coyotes fans away like that. "It was obviously a passionate group and I respect that, but it was nice to get the two points and kind of quiet the building a little bit."
And, as Shane Doan said after the win, every athlete has an ego, and every athlete wants to play in front of a packed house. Even if it means it may feel like a road game at times.
"If they want to spend their money to come to our games that's fine," the captain said.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett didn't seem too upset about the number of Canucks fans in attendance, noting how - much like it was back at Sun Devil Stadium in the 90s - a packed building is a better building, no matter who people are cheering for.
"I think we've seen games like that before, when there's fans from the other team there, I think it riles up our fans and their fans are going," he said. "It leads to a great atmosphere in the building."
Of course, the Coyotes would rather their own fans be the ones spending money and coming to games, but when you are last in the league for attendance, really, you can't afford to complain about who is showing up, so long as people are.
While the hope is more and more will begin to, history has shown us that while winning certainly helps bring people out to the arena, the Coyotes simply aren't the draw they'd like to be. If there was ever a time for fans to flock out to Glendale on a nightly basis it would be now, as the Coyotes just finished a ridiculous 11-0-1 February, a month that vaulted them into first place in the Pacific Division.
And, with the Phoenix Suns struggling once again, the only playoff push happening over the next couple months is the one going on in Glendale. Why not turn your attention to the ‘Yotes?
They're a good team - a real good team. And, to be honest, they have the look of a team that can get out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, something the franchise has not done since moving to the Valley.
But we'll worry about when we get there.
For now the Coyotes have 19 games left. Nineteen games to prove they are for real, though the NHL is already taking notice, and 19 games to get the state of Arizona on board.
Nineteen games to get a true home-ice advantage at Jobing.com Arena.
"We'll take a full house either way, but we'd like it to be more on the Coyotes side," Smith said.
That would be a sight for sore eyes.