I went to three Phoenix Coyotes games during the 2011-12 regular season.
I've been to six so far in the postseason. I plan on going to more.
My name is Adam Green, and I'm a bandwagon fan.
It's not that I used to dislike the Coyotes, far from it. I would usually attend a few games a year -- either as media or a fan -- and would occasionally watch games when I found them on T.V. But I wasn't "all about" the team or its successes and failures, at least, not like I have been with our other teams. The Coyotes were, in essence, an oatmeal raisin cookie to the other Valley teams' chocolate chip: I wouldn't refuse if offered, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one, either.
Now, Coyotes' faithful -- and I know you exist -- may hate me. You may say I can't appreciate the magical run the team is on, that because I did not suffer through the Gretzky years like yourself I am not really allowed to bask in the joy of what is happening now.
And you know what? In a way, you're right. But that doesn't matter, because I'm here now. And I'm not alone.
4 last nite's Coyotes/Preds, Pho received 4.64 rtg, highest local rating evr in mkt 4 NHL gm on NBCSN, which was No1 cable channel in mkt— NBCSportsPR (@NBCSportsPR) May 8, 2012
That tweet is further proof that the Coyotes have taken the city by storm. Jobing.com Arena has consistently sold out, people are wearing Coyotes gear around town, talking about the team and gathering to watch the games. The Coyotes are no longer a second-class citizen in Phoenix. They are the team.
While the die-hards may not necessarily appreciate us joining their cause, they must understand that every fan base starts somewhere. It comes easier for some teams than others, but sooner or later, it does come. Of those who have jumped on the bandwagon the last few weeks, many will still be around when the puck drops on next season. I'll be one of them, and it's easy to see why.
Combine an inspiring playoff run of their own with a down year (and uncertain future) from the Suns and the Coyotes have an outstanding chance to grab hold of the market. Add in the news of a likely sale of the team (that will keep them in the Valley) and no longer are people asking "will the Coyotes even be here next year," but rather, "Can this team actually win the Stanley Cup?!"
And, in a way, the whole saga, leading to "Hockey the Hard Way" has galvanized the fans, so much that the bitter ramblings from up north are not only laughed at, but rebuked. You want to take the Coyotes? Not on our watch.
These last few weeks have certainly taught me about the intensity of playoff hockey, as every good possession and every shot could be the difference between winning and losing. In trying to explain it to a friend, I compared it to having every pitch in a baseball game come with the bases loaded and a full count, ie: you never know if the next thing you see will be the difference in the game.
But winning, undoubtedly, is the key. There is no such thing as a bandwagon for a bad team, so the longer this playoff run goes on, the more Coyotes-crazy you'll see the Valley become. We like winners, and we have one in Glendale. And as long as the Coyotes aren't going anywhere, we won't, either.
After all, we've been waiting in line for Space Mountain for an hour, we're pot committed, we're invested: We're Coyotes fans now.