Espo: Coyotes the NHL's little orphan Annie
Published: December 15, 2010 @ 10:57am
Forget Nikolai Khabibulin, Sean Burke, Brian Boucher, and Ilya Bryzgalov, the City of Glendale has the greatest save in Phoenix Coyotes history.
It didn't come on the ice. It didn't even come on a night when the Coyotes were playing. The greatest save in team history came in a meeting room in the Glendale with the handle of a gavel being the only stick involved.
The Glendale City Council saved NHL hockey in Arizona late Tuesday night by approving a new lease that includes the city throwing in $197 million to potential new owner Matt Hulsizer. (Think of it as one really expensive engagement ring.)
Although the final score, or vote, was 5-2, it was the largest victory the Coyotes will ever have --short of Hulsizer delivering on his promise to win Lord Stanley's Cup-- in the Valley.
The vote should be the end of a very long, strange trip for the wayward franchise. A trip that started with an obstructed view arena in downtown Phoenix, continued with a legal fight in Scottsdale over a new arena, saw three owners turn there back on the team, and ended with the NHL owning the team in a beautiful new building in Glendale.
The Coyotes have been the NHL's version of little orphan Annie.
In the foster care of the NHL after being abandoned by those expected to protect and provide for them. They sat quietly --very quietly if you add in the fact that they didn't make the playoffs for years-- just waiting for someone to take them home and love them as their own. They saw many potential guardians such as Jerry Reinsdorf and Ice Edge Holdings come and go with no resolution or piece of mind.
The NHL even put out a reward, a great selling price, to find the team's rightful guardian. The move caused sketchy characters from Winnipeg and Hamilton to step forward and claim that they were the true home for the for the franchise in foster care. They were quickly proved to be frauds and turned away.
In the end the team's very own billionaire, or at the very least hundred-millionaire, "Daddy" Warbucks emerged in the form of Hulsizer. He fell in love with the little, spunky, red helmented team. After getting engaged to the city that chose to keep the team, he decided to adopt the Coyotes so they could all live happily ever after.
Whether they'll get that long term happy ending is yet to be seen. Hulsizer will provide stability, cash, and a passion to win. He'll also provide the team with a new name the Arizona Coyotes (because the ‘20 Minutes Outside of Phoenix Coyotes" was too long to fit on a logo). But will it change things?
If the diehard fans that packed the Glendale City Council chambers and gave Hulsizer a standing ovation that included howling are any indication, things will change for the better. This city loves an owner dedicated to winning, just ask Jerry Colangelo, and a team that contends (or at least gives off the illusion of contending).
Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs called the $197 million an "investment and not a gift" but for fans and the team there's no bigger gift they could have asked for this holiday season than a new guardian and a place to call home.