Shane Doan sat at his locker in the Coyotes dressing room,
quiet and alone
in his thoughts.
His team, hoping to become just the fourth team in NHL
history to rally
from an 0-3 deficit and win a postseason series, lost to
the Kings 4-3 in
The most magical season in franchise history came to a
sudden end, and
that itself would be tough to swallow.
That the goal came just seconds after he watched teammate
Rozsival get helped off the ice after a questionable hit
by Kings captain
Dustin Brown -- one that was not whistled for a penalty --
made things even
"It's hard because you don't want to take anything away
from L.A. because
they played unbelievable and you give them all the credit,
but I mean,
uncle, are you freaking kidding me, uncle" he said. "I
can't understand how
you miss that."
Doan mentioned a delay of game penalty the referees
overtime, as well as a penalty assessed to Martin Hanzal
that negated a 5-on-3
advantage Phoenix was set to have in the third period.
But what had him most upset was the hit on Rozsival.
Following Thursday's 2-1 loss I texted a friend, who
happens to be a Kings fan, and told him I'd be shocked if
we get a Game 5.
"So would the Coyotes."
I did not think the Coyotes had it in them to beat the
Kings, as it appeared they had given Los Angeles their
best shot and still lost.
Out-hustled, out-played and out-classed: Phoenix had
nothing going for them except for pride.
And, it turns out, that was enough to steal Game 4.
"We'd been through a lot of battles together," Coyotes
coach Dave Tippett said after the win. "We might as well
continue battling for a while. That was what the mindset
was going in.
"We put too much work in to let this slip away. It's
time to see if we can work back a little bit."
Chances are the Coyotes still won't win this series; only
thrice in NHL history has a team rallied from a 0-3
deficit to win. But standing up for themselves not with
playing dirty but, rather, playing well, was nice to see.
After all, this is supposed to be hockey the hard way, and
without a doubt it has been. However, as long as they're
still around, why not make it a little difficult on their
"Tonight we had nothing to lose," goalie Mike Smith said
after the game. Smith stopped all 36 shots he faced in
what was his third shutout of this postseason. "We had to
make sure we played our best game. That would give us a
chance to win."
It did, and they did.
The Coyotes came out needing a win Sunday, wanting to show
that they did indeed belong in the Western Conference
Final. No one should doubt that, but when you fail
to win a game in a series people will naturally question
Which is why stepping up like they did, preventing the
celebration that was rehearsed Thursday
night was a pleasant sight. While the Kings may very well
win the series (and probably will, unfortunately), they'll
have to work hard for at least another 60 minutes to do
Make ‘em sweat a little, you know?
"Nobody wants to be in the position we're in, but
everybody wants to prove they can kind of answer that
call," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said Sunday. Doan, of
course, scored the only two goals of the game, providing
the offensive lift the team had desperately needed.
"We got an unbelievable group of guys in our
room," he continued. "It sounds cliché-ish, every team
that reaches this point says the same thing about their
guys, but I really think our guys are special. We got just
a good group and I like it."
The Coyotes, as a group, have shown as much resolve as any
team in the NHL. Whether it's ownership issues, fan
support (or lack thereof), mid-season struggles, they've
always found a way to come out on top.
Perhaps Smith said it best, though, when asked if the team
played "desperate" Sunday.
"I think we played desperate since January," he said,
eliciting laughter. "But that goes without saying; we
were down 3-0 going into this game.
"If there's any point in the season when you're desperate,
I think knowing you can go home if you lose this game, I
think that's where desperation sets in."
In fact, the Coyotes are going home, but not to begin
their offseason. There will be at least 60 more minutes of
hockey in the desert, and as surprising as it may be,
that's 60 more than most would have expected.
And when it comes to this team, as cliché-ish as it may
sound, perhaps expecting the unexpected is really the way
"Ultimately, you know, they're a pretty good team.
They're getting some breaks on some calls I think that
eventually wore us down."
And with that quote from Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, you
can officially put the 2011-12 season to bed for the
Their magical postseason run, one that seemed like it
could be destined for the Stanley Cup Final just a week
ago, will come to an end at the hands of the Los Angeles
Kings and, unfortunately, a lack of toughness when the
Coyotes needed it most.
Because, while the officials in this series have been bad
-- really, really bad -- they are not the reason the
Coyotes will be watching the next series on T.V.
The Kings are simply a better team. Somehow. In every way
imaginable. And Tippett, who is easily one of the best
coaches in the NHL, knows it.
Spending time discussing how players benefit from
"embellishment" -- a tactic known as flopping in other
circles -- is noble in that, honestly, he's right. But
still, that's not what you want to hear.
A coach who thinks his team can beat an opponent does not
spend multiple press conferences talking about
officiating. A coach who thinks his team can beat an
opponent discusses exactly how it can happen, saying that
a small change here or there can be the difference.
That is not the case in this series, and it stinks.
But it's reality.
"But, you know, this last series, we just haven't been
able to get enough guys to the level that we need to
get to," Tippett added. "We talked about that after the
first couple games. The level is being raised here. We
just haven't been able to get to the next level."
They have not been able to get to the next level because,
quite frankly, they can't. The Kings are the Coyotes'
first two postseason opponents combined: Chicago's offense
with Nashville's goaltending.
Everything Coyotes fans may have feared coming into this
series has come to fruition, and the last thing the team
needed was shaky officiating. But they're getting it, and
are not handling it particularly well.
"Obviously that hurts any team when you're getting calls
like that, momentum taken out of the game," defenseman
Keith Yandle said. "We were doing a good job of rolling
four lines. On those penalties, you got to run only four
guys. That's something that took us out of the game a
"But you can't blame it on that."
No, you can't, and it's unfortunate the officials are even
a topic of discussion. However, that's what happens with
fans, because we look for a reason to explain our team's
demise that does not involve admitting they're just not as
But when the thought process seeps into the dressing room
and is one of the first things out of a coach's mouth?
That's a sign it's time to turn out the lights, because
there's nothing left to accomplish.
The old joke nearly rang true Tuesday night in Glendale.
I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out!
It's only "nearly" because, honestly, this wasn't much of
a hockey game,
though there were plenty of fights -- or, at the very
least, non-hockey moments.
Facing what had been deemed a "must-win" game by fans,
pundits and the
players themselves, the Coyotes came out in Tuesday's game
better than they did in Sunday's loss, looking like a team
that was not
going to go away quietly.
Then Dwight King scored at the 13:15 mark in the first
period, giving the Kings all the offense they would need,
but not all they'd get. More came when Jeff Carter scored
twice in the second and once in the third, completing the
hat trick and giving the Kings a 2-0 lead as the series
moves to Los Angeles.
Sadly, that wasn't even the worst thing to come out of the
The game featured 21 penalties -- 13 of which were on the
including game misconducts handed out to Coyotes captain
and assistant captain Martin Hanzal for boarding, a well
as Antoine Vermette for roughing. Doan hit
Trevor Lewis, Hanzal got Dustin Brown, and Vermette and
Dustin Penner went at it.
People can understand a team getting beat, it happens. But
unraveled and taking some cheap shots in the process?
Both players will await word on whether there will be any
from the NHL, and with Brendan Shanahan in charge, odds
are good at least
one of them will miss Thursday's Game 3, while the rest of
the team will try
to figure out what went wrong.
"We played hard; it's the playoffs," Coyotes defenseman
Keith Yandle said
after the game. "Guys are playing hard. You have to expect
hard games. I
thought we played hard and we were battling hard. We just
found our way
into the penalty box too much."
They found there way to the box by getting frustrated.
Frustrated they were getting beat, again. Frustrated they
could not solve
Jonathan Quick, again. Frustrated with the officiating.
Frustrated that no matter what they were doing, it
seems like it's just not good enough.
The Kings are a better team, and now they're in the
Coyotes' heads, even if
the players say otherwise.
"There were some hits out there that weren't good, but
it's one of those things where guys are playing hard,"
Brown, who was on the receiving end of Hanzal's hit, said.
"We capitalized on opportunities we had."
They had plenty of those opportunities, courtesy of the
Coyotes and their
lack of discipline.
In all, the Coyotes played 15:37 of the game short-handed,
some of which
was even 5-3.
"Any time you spend half the period or more in the penalty
a team with the skill level they have is going to score,"
Coyotes goalie Mike
Were some of the penalties -- including the one on Doan --
Perhaps, at least Coyotes coach Dave Tippett thinks so.
But going back to
something Tippett said after Game 1, when the team was
dinged by the
refs for retaliating to what the Kings were doing, it's up
to the players to
keep their composure and play through what they may deem
to be poor
The Coyotes didn't do that Tuesday, and it may very well
from moving forward in the postseason. Should their
magical run end here,
they'll undoubtedly take a long look in the mirror, and
chances are good
they won't like what they see.
"I don't know whether we're just happy to be here in the
or what it is, but we definitely need to look around at
each other," Smith
said. "There's a lot of players that aren't going to get
many more chances
to do this.
"Guys need to look around and know that you might not get
like this. It's such an honor to play in the playoffs,
especially in the
conference finals that when you get here you want to make
sure that you
give everything you have and that you don't leave anything
on the table at
the end of the day."
It's been a poor showing from the Coyotes; of that there
is no doubt.
They're better than this -- in more ways than one -- and
still have a chance,
slim as it may be, to turn things around.
Should they fail to do so, though, this game will be the
one looked at as when
it all slipped away. The Coyotes spent much of the night
getting shots in
on the Kings, whereas the Kings spent their evening
getting shots past
There's a scene in D2: The Mighty Ducks -- hell,
any hockey movie -
where the team gets run ragged in practice following a
poor game, where
players are forced to skate until they can't skate
Coyotes, welcome to your Monday following a Game 1 loss to
the Los Angeles
Kings in the Western Conference Final.
"We had some games like this, but not to the point where
we got out-competed
the way we did," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said following
Think the coach is upset with his team?
Fortunately for the Coyotes - unlike the Mighty Ducks
before them - quitting
is not really an option, unless you think they gave up in
Sunday's 4-2 loss.
And hey, it'd be tough to argue that assertion.
After all, the Coyotes were, as Tippett said, beat in
every facet of the game.
They were outshot 48-27, they went 0-for-5 on the power
play, turned the
puck over far too
often and failed to do much of anything positive, save a
Derek Morris shot
from center ice and an outstanding play that led to Mikkel
period goal. In all, little happened that would lead one
to believe the
Coyotes will be able to knock off the hottest team in
Unless, of course, they play better which was,
surprisingly, the general theme
in the dressing room following the game.
"It's frustrating when you get beat, it's disappointing
when you get beat,"
Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "It's no good, especially
when we don't play
as well as we can."
Doan gave credit to the Kings for controlling the game,
and rightfully so. The
tempo was set early - L.A. scored just 3:53 into the game
- and Jonathan Quick
was impressive at saving shots that did not come from the
The Coyotes did have chances, and they head into
Tuesday's Game 2
feeling like it's up to them to play their game, not
adjust to the Kings'.
Find a team that doesn't have that kind of mentality after
a loss and you'll
have one that does not believe it can win.
That's not the Coyotes, at least not yet.
"I'm pretty sure that you don't get anything from winning
one," Doan said.
"We've got to find a way to win the next one."
Indeed, because while Game 2 is not technically a "must-
win," it would be
tough to imagine the Coyotes coming back from an 0-2 hole
in this one.
"It's a long, long battle," center Antoine Vermette said.
"It's not going to
come easy, there's plenty of hockey still left; you have
to adjust quickly and
learn from your mistakes."
Tippett said he's curious to see how his team responds
from being down in a
series for the first time this postseason.
"I'm interested to see how we come back and play better,"
he said. "Because we
have to play better if we're going to have a chance to
The process will begin at 11:30 a.m. Monday as the Coyotes
take the ice at
Jobing.com Arena for practice.
I went to three Phoenix Coyotes games during the 2011-12
I've been to six so far in the postseason. I plan on going
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
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.
The Phoenix Suns have not exactly made a habit of making
sure their top free agents stick around.
Whether it was Joe Johnson bolting in 2005, Tim Thomas in
2006, Amare Stoudemire in 2010 or likely Steve Nash in
2012, the team has seen countless contributors skip town
in search of more money or a better situation once their
contracts with the team expired.
Unfortunately it appears they are willing to risk the same
thing happening with head coach Alvin Gentry.
"First and foremost there is not even a scintilla of a
moment, of an instant where anyone is questioning about
whether he is going to be our coach next year - obviously
he is going to be our coach," President of Basketball
Operations Lon Babby said at a gathering of local media
Babby admitted, when talking about his team, that it
lacked "top talent." A 33-33 record would indicated as
much, though no one has really questioned Gentry's job
security for this next season because of what happened in
the last one.
But with his contract set to expire following this next
season the idea of giving a contract extension to Gentry,
who Babby said the team is pleased with, would make sense.
"My view is if a person has a three-year contract you
assess it at the end of three years," Babby continued.
"That's how I'm going to be judged, I've talked to Alvin
about it, he's perfectly fine with that."
Babby's words sound reasonable enough, as the idea of
judging Gentry's performance upon the completion of his
contract would prevent the team from possibly extending
him only to fire him when the team starts to struggle.
Except, you know, for the fact that Gentry has already
proven himself to be a very good coach, and there's always
the possibility he decides to leave on his own accord,
finding a better situation for himself.
That is the chance the Suns are taking by allowing
Gentry's contract to expire, because while he's only been
the team's boss for three full seasons, the coach has
shown deftness for getting the most out of what he has,
and save one season, that hasn't been much.
Guiding the team to the Western Conference Finals in 2010
may have been Gentry's most noteworthy coaching job, but
coaxing a respectable record out of his most recent squad
may be his greatest accomplishment to date.
In short, Gentry will have options if Phoenix decides to
go in a different direction. But maybe that's the idea.
It may be a little conspiracy theory-y, or possibly just
making something up out of thin air: but is the franchise
waiting to see how Gentry does this upcoming season their
way of saying "if the team stinks then you're out?"
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett appeared to do something he hasn't done in a
Just days after being as upset as you'll ever see a coach whose team just
won a playoff game, Tippett joked around, seemingly pleased with what
had transpired on the ice not long before his post-game press conference.
Saying his team just played its best 60 minutes of hockey this postseason,
culminating in a 5-3 victory and 2-0 series lead over the Nashville
Predators, Tippett offered nothing but praise.
"Right through our lineup we really had a concerted push through the
lineup," he said. "I didn't think there were any weak links in the lineup."
The Coyotes got goals from Antoine Vermette, Martin Hanzal, Radim
Vrbata, Taylor Pyatt and Shane Doan, as well as 33 saves from a less-than-
sharp Mike Smith.
OK, we'll give Smith a break. After all, for the first time this postseason the
Coyotes gave him one.
In coming out of the gates strong Sunday the Coyotes managed to quiet
many who felt they would struggle against a Predators team that finished
Game 1 playing exceptionally well. With the rust from their long layoff
gone, few would have been surprised to see the visitors get off to a fast
start and play well.
The Coyotes, obviously, had other plans.
They outshot Nashville 12-9 in the first period - 39-33 for the game -
coming out with an aggressive mindset not seen this postseason. They
took it to the Predators early and often, carrying a lead for all but 18:02 of
"We stayed chasing the puck," captain Shane Doan said. "Last game, in the
first two periods we didn't play close to the way we wanted to and in the
third we let them back in."
That didn't happen Sunday, and really, it never even came close.
"We've gave the opponent enough comebacks," Smith said. "It was nice to
close one out and get some big goals by key players at timely times in the
game where they just scored or they had momentum and we went down
and got an answer and kind of took the wind out of their sails."
The Coyotes responded to every Predators goal with one of their own in
minutes, preventing the type of momentum shift that has been apparent in
every game the Coyotes have squandered away late.
And now, because of it, they head to Nashville - where they already won
twice this season - in firm control of the series.
"In the playoffs anything can happen, but we've got to feel good where we
sit right now," Smith said. "But saying that, it's going to be a long series so
we're setting ourselves up for it."
Which is why maybe, for as pleased as Tippett seemed Sunday, he wasn't
exactly ready to say his team found the blueprint for getting by Nashville.
"I don't know, we've done it two ways now," he said. "We've done it with
Smitty and the other way.
"I wouldn't be buying the blueprints just yet."
Fair enough, but the Coyotes really do seem to have something here,
especially if they can play as well as they did Sunday the rest of the series.
Tippett, who joked that the team is "just fine down here just kind of playing
along" when asked if his team's performance will open eyes around the
NHL, said the team is brimming with confidence.
"A lot of times you get in a series where maybe you're the underdog in the
series and you get a win, but then everybody just thinks the other team
should win the next game because they're supposed to win," he said. "Our
guys don't understand that. Why can't we win again, I don't understand.
And that was the mindset in the room [Sunday].
"We won Game 1, we can play better, why can't we win Game 2?"
That they did both Sunday made themselves winners, and their coach --
for the first time in a while -- happy with how they did it.
In truth, we probably should have seen this coming.
The Phoenix Coyotes took a 1-0 series lead over the
Nashville Predators by winning 4-3. In overtime. After
surrendering a third-period lead.
It's hockey, the Coyotes' way.
"We do everything the hard way," game-winning goal scorer
Ray Whitney joked after the game. "There's certainly
nothing easy about what we're doing right now."
No, but somehow it's effective, and it has the Coyotes, in
the Western Conference semifinals for the first time, one
game closer to the next round.
Of course, you wouldn't know it from the post-game scene,
as there seemed to be more relief than excitement in the
Coyotes' locker room. But that's kind of what happens
after you win a game that, quite frankly, you probably
didn't deserve to win.
The Coyotes were outshot by the Predators 42-24 on the
night - including 16-1 in the third period - and once
again struggled to keep the puck out of their own zone.
However, Mike Smith was his usual stellar self Friday
night, and he got just enough offense from Whitney, Radim
Vrbata, Rusty Klesla and Mikkel Boedker to come away with
the big win.
"It's important to start off a series with a big win,"
Smith said. "More importantly, to win at home, so
obviously it's a big, big win for our team and we need to
keep pushing forward and keep improving every game."
The Coyotes will have to improve if they are to win this
series, because the Predators are not going to go away
quietly. They didn't Friday, and they won't in the future.
"We're fortunate to get the first one under our belt, but
if we expect to have a chance to win this series we're
going to have to be far better than that," Coyotes coach
Dave Tippett said.
After all, they cannot expect Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka
Rinne to struggle like he did in the series opener. With
most expecting goals to be scarce, Friday seemed like a
bit of an offensive explosion.
"With these two goalies, that is probably higher than
anyone would expect, but who knows, those might be the
only goals we see the rest of the series," Whitney said.
"Kind of an unusual game in that aspect."
It wasn't pretty, easy or, really, deserved. But the
Coyotes will take it.
"Obviously we would like not to get out-played, but that's
the way it's gone [Friday] and hopefully we can clean that
up a little bit," Mikkel Boedker said. "But we got out on
top so it's nothing to be mad about.
"There's areas we can clean up and be better in, but we
The Arizona Cardinals did two things with the selection of
Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd Thursday evening.
One, they avoided repeating the mistakes of 2003, when the
team passed on an opportunity to select one of many
players who would help the team in favor of trading down
in the first round. Instead of picking sixth, where they
could have selected a guy like Terrell Suggs, they moved
down to 17th and 18th, nabbing Bryant Johnson and Calvin
That move still haunts the team to this day, and they did
not let history repeat itself Thursday night.
However, as great as the addition of Floyd will be for the
team, the second thing the move does will have even larger
ramifications for the Arizona Cardinals.
In a way, head coach Ken Whisenhunt spelled it out when
explaining the pick.
"It gives us another target, which we think will help take
pressure off the quarterback," he said of Floyd.
By taking more pressure off the quarterback the Cardinals
are actually putting more on him.
You're up, Kevin Kolb.
The Cardinals now boast an embarrassment of riches at the
skill positions on offense, with enough playmakers to help
even the most average of QBs look good.
Larry Fitzgerald. Beanie Wells. Ryan Williams. Michael
Floyd. Todd Heap. Rob Housler. Early Doucet. Andre
Every one of these players has shown big-play ability.
Every one of these players stands to play key roles for
the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. Neither one of these
players is an offensive lineman, sure, but the team will
most definitely address that spot later in the draft.
By drafting a playmaker like Floyd with their first-
rounder, the Cardinals showed they hope to replicate the
success they had through the air in 2008 and 2009. And, if
not that, at least get back to being one of the league's
better passing attacks.
Yes, you can take Kurt Warner out of the offense, but you
apparently cannot take the offense out of the Arizona
"When you really look at it, you've got a player that can
change field position pretty quickly," Whisenhunt said.
"And when you couple that with the guys that we already
have - Larry, Andre and Early - we feel like it gives us a
very good receiving core."
Indeed, but that's where Kolb comes in, fresh out of the
excuses that were granted him in his first season with the
He'll have an entire offseason to learn the playbook, a
revamped (if not improved) offensive line, and one of the
league's better running back tandems.
And, with the selection of Michael Floyd, Kevin Kolb will
have a group of pass catchers who can make big plays down
Three years or so ago the Phoenix Suns had a decision to
Trade Amare Stoudemire before he likely left as a free
agent, or make one last run with him, future be damned.
They decided to make one final run, and were rewarded with
a trip to the Western Conference Finals before he decided
to bolt for the bright lights (and extra money) New York
had to offer.
Similarly, the last two seasons the team has had a similar
decision to make with regards to Steve Nash and, like with
Stoudemire, they've elected to keep him around in hopes of
making a final run or two before he possibly left as a
They were rewarded with a pair of trips to the NBA's draft
Recently, plenty of teams have had similar decisions to
make with regards to their own stars.
Last season alone we saw the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz
part with Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams,
respectively, deciding that whatever they could possibly
win with them was not worth receiving nothing in return
for them over the summer.
The Nuggets shipped ‘Melo out for Wilson Chandler, Raymond
Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, one first-round
pick, two second-round picks and $3 million cash.
They made the playoffs the season of the trade. They made
the playoffs the season following the trade.
The Jazz, on the other hand, received Derrick Favors,
Devin Harris, two first-round picks and cash
considerations for Williams.
They bottomed out the year of the trade, and just clinched
a playoff spot (over the Suns, mind you) the year after.
Now, this isn't to say the Suns would have received a
similar package for Stoudemire or Nash. Neither player
carried anything close to the value an Anthony or Williams
had, so it's tough to say what exactly the team could have
received in return.
But they would have received something, and that's the
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost LeBron James for nothing, and
look at them now. Same with the Toronto Raptors and Chris
Bosh. Losing stars for nothing is not a way to build a
winner. Letting them go on their terms - not yours - is
the way to ensure your team crumbles in their absence.
"At some point, you have to start rebuilding," TNT NBA
analyst and Suns Ring of Honor member Charles Barkley said
Tuesday night. "I love Steve Nash but at some point you
have to start rebuilding for the future.
"He can still play but they don't need him in Phoenix."
By the way, Barkley said the Suns re-signing Nash would be
Unfortunately for the Suns, the "stupid" part of what
they've done has already come to pass. The team held onto
Nash and whatever was left of a great run, squeezing some
excellent basketball out of an aging player on a bad team.
And now, as the saying goes, the chickens will come home
Nash will explore free agency, just as he's said he will,
and may very well leave for another team - one that has a
chance to win in the coming years.
And in return, the Suns will have a roster void of impact
players, instead filled with role players who can be good
some nights, but struggle with consistency.
Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat are nice players, but
neither are the type you build around.
Channing Frye and Robin Lopez have had their moments, but
cannot be relied on night in and night out.
The team's prized rookie, Markieff Morris, looked
overwhelmed every time he was inserted into the starting
lineup, and Grant Hill may follow Nash out of town.
After that, it's just a collection of players who either
won't come back or have had little impact on the team to
In other words, if Nash leaves, the Suns will be bad. Very
bad. Think Cavaliers, Raptors kind of bad.
Teams that do not prepare to move on without their stars
struggle mightily when having to do just that. The Suns
surrendered the option to part with Steve Nash on their
own terms, instead leaving it up to the player.
The Suns' finale Wednesday at home may very well be the
two-time MVP's final game in a purple and orange uniform.
Remember to enjoy it and appreciate what you are watching,
fans, because keeping Nash the last two seasons may cost
the team its future.
Their words sound well-and-good, but the real test will
come Thursday when the team makes its pick (presumably
13th overall). If history is any indication, need will
absolutely be a factor.
Let's take a look at the team's draft history under Whiz:
2007: Levi Brown, 5th overall.
2008: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 16th overall
2009: Beanie Wells, 31st overall
2010: Dan Williams, 26th overall
2011: Patrick Peterson, 5th overall
Of those five, only DRC, Wells and Peterson could be
considered "BPA" selections, and even that's a stretch
since corners are always in demand and the team was
planning on cutting Edgerrin James when they picked Wells.
If there is anything to learn from Whisenhunt's tenure -
and maybe those of every NFL coach, to be honest - it's
that need is always a factor, no matter what people
So, where does that leave the Cardinals?
Based purely on "need," the Cardinals would likely be
interested in one of David DeCastro, Jonathan Martin,
Riley Reiff or Cordy Glenn. All linemen, all would plug a
Based purely on value, a player like Michael Floyd, Melvin
Ingram or Courtney Upshaw would be a fantastic choice at
At least one of those players will likely be there when
the Cardinals are on the clock. At least one of those
players will likely be the guy.
If the Cardinals go with a lineman, will you feel like
they did so out of need? Would you even believe them if
they said Reiff or Glenn was the top player on their
Probably not, but "reaching" for a player at 13 is a lot
more understandable than doing so in the top-5, so the
Cardinals taking a lineman not named Matt Kalil would not
be the end of the world.
Things were easy to figure out last season, with only four
teams picking before Arizona. Most figured Peterson to be
on the board for them, and given his talent plus the need
the team was planning on creating by trading DRC to
Philadelphia, the choice was about as obvious as it was
There will be no such luck this time around.
Picking later in the draft is the price a team pays for
success, and because of it the Cardinals will have to wait
a while - and probably sweat a bit, too - as names are
called and players taken off their draft board.
Then the Cardinals will make their selection, and no
matter who it is, will say they selected the top-ranked
player on their draft board and talk about how excited
they are to add a player of so-and-so's caliber to the
They'll probably be lying, at least a little bit.
While it is great to say a team is taking the best player
available, it's far from that simple. The Cardinals will
be factoring in their team needs every time they make a
pick, meaning they may draft a player that is less
exciting than he is needed.
It made sense. I'll be running in the event for the first
time Saturday, and it's become enough of a staple here in
the Valley that we should have something on it for
Then I started putting the story together, and learned
there is much more to the story than I originally thought.
Sure, the run itself is important. Hunter Riley, Director
of Programs for the Pat Tillman Foundation, said they sold
out and are expecting 28,000 people for the 4.2 mile run,
and another 4,000 kids doing the .42 mile trek. Add in the
10,000 or so who will be there just to watch, and you have
a packed house in Tempe Saturday morning.
And that doesn't even count the record 25 "shadow runs"
that will take place all over the country.
"People around the United States definitely step up and
become part of this," Riley said.
It's a far cry from the event's relatively humble
beginnings in 2005.
"Year one, less than 5,000 people," Riley said of how many
participated. "It was really about just a group of people
honoring and remembering Pat Tillman."
Tillman, you remember, was an Arizona State Sun Devil,
Arizona Cardinal and U.S. Army Ranger who was killed in
Afghanistan in a friendly fire incident on April 22, 2004.
His death shocked the country but also opened America's
eyes to a man whose legacy all involved hope to honor.
"We're here to honor those who have served and sacrificed
for this nation," Riley said. "Because of that it's beyond
Pat right now."
In the Matrix trilogy, déjà vu is a sign that there
is a glitch in the
program, that something has changed and likely not for the
In Groundhog Day, Phil (played by Bill Murray)
could not escape a
particular day until he learned some things that would
change his life for the better.
While the Coyotes would much rather take after Phil, who
ultimately learned from his
mistakes and improved his life, they unfortunately more
Neo Saturday night in Glendale, as the change in Game 3 --
and their first-round playoff series against the Chicago
Blackhawks -- was not a good one.
"Obviously disappointed and frustrated, but it's 1-1 now,"
Shane Doan said after the team's 4-3 OT loss. "Never want
to give a game
away like we did, but at the same time it's one game."
If only it was "one game." In fact, it was the second time
in two games
where the Coyotes saw the Blackhawks tie things up in the
this time courtesy of a Patrick Sharp goal at the 19:54
mark in the third
The Coyotes were six seconds away from heading to the
Windy City with a
2-0 series lead, and instead head to Chicago with the wind
taken out of their sails.
"Obviously it's disappointing, no doubt about that,"
Vermette said. "When you win you're feeling pretty good
and then I think a
key in the playoffs is managing your emotion.
Vermette scored a pair of goals on the night, and nearly
pulled off the hat
trick early in overtime, only to be stuffed by Chicago
Crawford. What could have been…
Added Vermette, "I mean, it's disappointing but we got to
look ahead and
go there and
regroup and have some good games over there."
They're going to have to.
The good news is that as bad as things seem now, this
series isn't over -
it's just been reset. While the Blackhawks accomplished
what they set out
to do by earning the split, but now it's on them to hold
serve at the United
Center in Chicago, where the Coyotes won a pair of games
regular season (one in a shootout).
So while things may seem bleak now, all is not lost. In
fact, as Coyotes
coach Dave Tippett said, this series has played out in a
fashion that was not
"It's exactly the way I thought it was going to be, tight
and very contested,"
Doan agreed, saying they all thought it would be a long
series, and it's
going to be exactly that.
Not much changed for the Coyotes from Game 1 to Game 2,
with the only
difference being who came out on top. The good news for
them is like Phil,
they will have a chance to learn and move on.
Glendale, Ariz. -- The slogan for the 2011-12 Phoenix
Coyotes is "Hockey
the Hard Way."
In their Stanley Cup Playoffs opener Thursday night in
Glendale against the
Blackhawks, it may as well have been "Making hockey harder
The Coyotes fell behind just 4:04 into the game when
Toews slipped a shot past Mike Smith, conjuring up
memories of last year's
first-round sweep at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings.
The Coyotes survived the rest of the first period and went
intermission down just 1-0, and then something
They fought back.
The Coyotes showed their trademark resilience in the
storming back with goals from Taylor Pyatt and Antoine
the Desert Dogs to take a 2-1 lead into the third.
"We finally got some rhythm in our game a little bit,"
Coyotes coach Dave
Tippett said of what changed in the second period.
The Coyotes played pretty well into the third, too, and
for 19 minutes and
45 seconds, it seemed like the lead would hold up.
That is, until Chicago's Brent Seabrook punched a shot by
Smith and the
Coyotes square in the gut, tying the game and sending it
No worries, though, because these are the Coyotes. It
wouldn't be them if it
wasn't at least a little difficult.
"We've had it happen probably three or four times to us
this year, so we
can deal with it," captain Shane Doan said of the late
goal. "It's one of those
things that it's just the way it is.
"That's just how playoff hockey is played."
Fortunately for the Coyotes -- and most of the more than
17,000 fans in
attendance -- the team fought back once again, with Martin
at the 9:29 in overtime for the win.
Final score: Coyotes 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT).
It wasn't easy but it was a win, and at this point in the
season that's the
only thing anyone cares about.
And, after managing to notch the win Thursday, you can't
help but feel
good about this team's chances. After all, they couldn't
even lose when
they seemingly tried.
To wit: The Coyotes were outshot 45-34 and allowed four
power plays --
two in the third period -- and still found a way to win.
Whether or not this year's team is anymore talented than
the last two that
flamed out in the playoffs is up for debate, but what is
not -- especially
what transpired in Game 1 -- is the fact that this team is
as mentally tough
as they come.
After all, it would seem like it would be tough to bounce
back after letting a
lead slip away in the game's final seconds and having to
go to overtime to
"We were viewing it as more of an opportunity," Doan said.
was talked about in the room. I mean, you get to the
playoffs and it's
unbelievable, but to play overtime in the playoffs is…when
you're a kid you
talk about scoring the overtime winner, that's the way it
"Not the way you want to go into it, but once you're in it
you've got to find
the silver lining."
And victories, of course.
As it stands, the Coyotes need three more to go where
they've never gone
before: the second round.
But that's a long ways away, as this promises to be a
series, for the players, fans and everyone else invested
in what happens on
It's not easy, but that's playoff hockey. It's also chippy
but again, that's the
"I think everyone's just ornery out there," goalie Mike
Smith said. "It's a fun
atmosphere to be a part of, it's fun to play in games like
There's at least three more left, though chances are
things won't be settled
that quickly. Or easily.
"We've got to treat every game as a playoff game," Suns
coach Alvin Gentry told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and
Gambo. "It has to be almost like a playoff game for us."
The Suns have gone 5-1 since, fighting their way into the
conversation for one of the Western Conference's final 8
As it stands, even the most ardent pro-lottery guy (cough…
myself…cough…) can appreciate the evolution this team has
gone through and the fight they have displayed. The team
that slumped to a 12-19 mark in mid-February is gone,
replaced by a squad that competes every night out.
Are they perfect? No. This is still a team that lacks a
go-to scorer and struggles to put points on the scoreboard
late in games. They rely heavily on the three ball and
have needed great games from guys like Shannon Brown and
Michael Redd to come out with wins against some of the
league's lesser teams.
But, unlike earlier in the season, they are getting those
wins on a consistent basis, which is why there is renewed
optimism on Planet Orange.
No longer is Shannon Brown the worst player to recently
don a Suns uniform; Pat Burke, Paul Shirley and Sean Marks
can go back to fighting for that honor. The guy has been a
perfect fit in the team's starting lineup, providing a
spark the team lacked -- and needed.
If it is at all possible for a team to make a statement
just three games into a 162-game season, the Arizona
Diamondbacks did just that over the weekend.
It's not just that the D-backs swept the San Francisco
Giants, a team many think will challenge Arizona for the
NL West crown.
And it's not just that the Diamondbacks swept the San
Francisco Giants while facing the likes of Tim Lincecum,
Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain - the last of whom pitched
against Josh Collmenter.
No, the fact that the Diamondbacks swept the Giants in a
way that reminds you of how this team won so often last
season shows that the resiliency - which was this team's
best and most important trait - has not gone anywhere.
"That one will make you smile, it really does," manager
Kirk Gibson said after Sunday's 7-6 win, one in which his
team committed 5 errors while falling behind 6-0. "Guys
battled. It was an interesting game, and they got the job
done, competed very well today."
While interesting isn't the word I would use to describe
what transpired Sunday (sloppy would be more accurate),
the one thing it should not have been - even if it was,
just a little - is surprising.
OK, it was admittedly surprising to me, as I turned to my
grandfather in the third inning Sunday and said something
to the effect of "well, this one's over."
You'd think I would have learned not to doubt the D-backs
after last season, because if Gibson's squad has proven
anything over the last year or so, it's that they won't
give up on any game, and because of it, neither should the
But as you likely already know, old habits die hard.
As fans, we must get used to the fact that this is a good
team with a chance to be special. That comes with some
pressure, because "just being competitive" is no longer
good enough. Sure, last year was fun and all, but we want
more this season. We expect more this season.
And, I believe we'll get more this season, even if, like
Sunday, it's not always pretty.
"I think it brings back good memories for us, similar to
last year," Gibson said after the win. "I've said several
times that I love playing ugly games and winning them.
"Today's game was really beautiful."
While three games is hardly enough of a sample size to
determine what this D-backs team will accomplish this
season (remember, they finished last April with a 11-15
mark), we can all feel comfortable with the knowledge that
everything that made this team special last season
A non-local news station was at the Coyotes game Tuesday
night, looking to do a story about the team's ownership
situation and the chances of relocation in the near
Unfortunately for them (and their presumed angle), the
only place the Coyotes moved was farther up the Western
Conference Standings, as Phoenix beat the Columbus Blue
Jackets 2-0 and all but solidified its hold on a playoff
You can thank Mike Smith.
The Coyotes' goalie notched his 8th shutout of the
season while making an NHL regular season record 54 saves
in a shutout, all while winning his 36th game of the
Smith has not allowed a goal in 219 minutes and 59
seconds, putting together his best stretch of the season
when the team needed him most.
"As an athlete I think we want to contribute and help the
team win in times like this in the season," Smith said
after the game. "I wouldn't think it's any different for
anyone else other than just me.
"It's an important time of year to play well, and I'm just
fortunate that I'm doing it at this time in the season.
It's exciting and fun to be a part of games like this."
A free agent at the end of this season, the Suns have,
publicly, expressed hope a desire to keep
the former league MVP on Planet Orange after this season.
Still playing at a high level, Nash is the quintessential
Phoenix Sun, the face of the franchise and the team's best
player. Even though they should begin the
rebuilding process around young players, it makes sense on
some levels for the organization to want Nash back for a
few more years.
But what about the player, does he want to come back?
According to Nash himself, only if the Suns make some
serious improvements this summer, because he'd rather not
spend his final days in the NBA playing for a lottery
team, which is what the Suns are right now.
"I definitely do want to win," Nash told
FoxSports Radio's Dan Patrick. "I'm not going to come
back to the Suns if there isn't an improvement. If they're
not ambitious and they're not looking to upgrade the
roster seriously -- and I think they are.
"They'll have a lot of flexibility in free agency. I think
I've been standing pat so they could do some things this
summer. I think they'll become a definite possibility for
me, but I do want to win and I do want to consider all my
A player not wanting to play for a winner would be
news, so Nash's words should not really come as a shock to
Except for the fact that the timing of his statement is a
The Suns, after all, can no longer make improvements to
this year's team. And, if the New
York Post's Peter Vescey is to be believed, this fact
infuriates Nash. Regardless, the roster you see is the one
that will continue to fight for a playoff spot, though
they will be doing so short Grant Hill, who had surgery
Friday to repair a torn meniscus.
But again, Nash's comments are not about this year - not
really. No doubt the last two seasons have been a drain on
him, because there is no doubt being on the losing end of
the scoreboard more often than is not a lot of fun.
However, there was little Nash could do about it before -
short of asking for a trade, which he was not going to do
- so he had to tough it out, continuing to battle every
night in the hopes that things would somehow improve.
The news that former apostrophe-less Suns star Amar'e
Stoudemire is out indefinitely due to a bulging disc in
his lower back would seem to indicate the Suns were right
not to re-sign him following the 2010 season, instead
letting him leave for the guaranteed money in New York.
After all, the Knicks are now on the hook for the rest of
Stoudemire's $99.7 million contract, and after averaging
just 17.6 points and 8 rebounds per game before the injury
this year, it would seem he's going to be more "dead
weight" than "All-Star" by the time his contract is done.
Congratulations, Robert Sarver and Co., you did something
Or maybe not.
Stoudemire getting hurt this season does not mean
he could not have helped the Suns last season. STAT
averaged 25.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in his
first year in the Big Apple, numbers that would have been
difficult not to achieve if he was still playing with
Steve Nash in the Valley of the Sun.
Taken by the Cardinals with the fifth pick in the 2007 NFL
Draft, the offensive lineman has at best adequate, and at
Sure, he has not missed a game since his rookie season,
starting all 16 (plus playoffs) every year since 2008. And
yes, at 28, he's in the midst of his prime, a player who
should not see a significant drop off in play anytime
Still, there are plenty of
fans who feel the team bringing Brown back was a
mistake on par with drafting him in the first place.
After all, why continue on with a player who, with every
false start or blown pass protection, reminds us that the
team passed on some guy named Adrian Peterson?
Well, because it was the right thing to do.
While Brown is not an elite left tackle like Joe Thomas,
Jake Long or Joe Staley, he is a player who has
started for two playoff teams - one of which reached the
Of course, he did so as a right tackle, which is where the
team is rumored to be moving him back to this year. Can
the team find a better left tackle either through the
draft or what's left in free agency? One would hope so,
but at least the team is not left looking to fill both
That is how a team backs itself into a corner. That is how
a team drafts Levi Brown in the first place.
The Suns would have been better off tanking the season.
The 2012 draft set to be one of the more loaded classes in
recent history. The Thunder are leading the West, and they
are showing no signs of falling apart. And, should a team
miraculously get past the Durantula, chances are the Bulls
or Heat will be waiting for them.
So an NBA Championship is out the window.
And, when the Suns' loss to the Lakers on February 17
dropped their record to 12-19, it seemed like I (and many
others) would get their wish.
Eleven wins in 14 games later, and the Suns find
themselves on the playoff bubble, playing as well as
anyone but the aforementioned Bulls since the All-Star
While I won't ask anyone to get excited about the team's
ascension to playoff contention (mediocrity is nothing to
cheer for), the fact that the team is even at this point
is a testament to a coaching staff that gets the most out
of its players and a group of players who just won't quit.
After all, this is the same team Steve Nash has repeatedly
said was short on talent.
Sure, the Suns have five players averaging double figures
in scoring, with Marcin Gortat's 16 points per night
leading the team, but that's good enough for just 37th-
best in the league. Gortat is also the team's leading
rebounder, but his 10 per game place him ninth in the NBA
- hardly great.
In fact, only Nash, who is averaging a league-best
11.3 assists per game, would be confused with an elite
player. The team's only All-Star, the 38-year-old who
wasn't traded is putting together yet another excellent
But, even Nash can't carry the Suns to the playoffs - not
on his own - which is what makes the team's recent spurt
all the more remarkable.
Of course, in typical Nash fashion, the point guard
attributed the good basketball to chemistry.
"I think people are understanding and feeling more
comfortable with their roles, I think we're more cohesive,
chemistry has improved," he said. "It's definitely another
reason why we're playing better."
Other reasons include Channing Frye remembering how to
shoot, Grant Hill stepping his game up and Jared Dudley,
who's avereging 17.2 points per game since the All-Star
break, emerging as a consistent scoring threat.
The bench has played well - or, at least, well enough - to
allow coach Alvin Gentry to rest his starters without
fear. Hell, Gentry was even able to rest both Nash and
Hill last week in Los Angeles against the Clippers, and
his team responded by pulling out one of the more gutsy
wins you'll ever see.
Gentry shares Nash's view on where the improvement has
"I think that the chemistry has just come together,"
Gentry said, agreeing with his point guard. "I don't know
how that happens but I think our guys feel pretty good
about themselves. Our bench is starting to play better.
Because of that I think guys are starting to feel more
comfortable in their roles."
This could be the reason, because there's no other way to
explain the way Gentry is getting solid production from
the likes of Sebastian Telfair, Michael Redd, Robin Lopez
and Shannon Brown, while still finding minutes for rookie
That's not exactly a second unit dreams are made of.
But I digress.
That the players did not quit on the season or on their
coach is a sign that, if the front office has done one
thing right, it's assemble a group of men who will
continue to fight.
President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby has, many
times, told Arizona Sports 620 that the goal is to create
a certain culture around the organization, which is why
they wouldn't trade Nash or tank the season in the hopes
of landing a better draft pick.
Though the team is not likely to return to elite status
without acquiring a superstar or two - and that generally
happens via the draft - it's tough to fault the players
and coaches for doing everything they can to win
basketball games, a process that gets more difficult as 13
of the team's final 21 games will be on the road, starting
Tuesday in Miami against the Heat.
Should the Suns win enough games the rest of the way to
sneak into the playoffs they will have done themselves a
disservice, sacrificing a better future for the
opportunity to lose in the first round of the NBA
But they will also have done themselves proud, showing the
type of character and heart you want in a team.
Even if it's lacking the requisite talent to really
"Regarding today's developments and our quarterback
position, acquiring Peyton Manning is no longer an option
With those words Friday, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt
effectively put an end to the team's pursuit of Peyton
Manning, ending months of speculation and a week's worth
of effort to land the future Hall of Fame QB.
The Cards bowed out of the Manning sweepstakes largely
because of a roster bonus due to Kevin Kolb, a contract
stipulation that forced the Cardinals to make a decision -
one way or another - by Friday afternoon: either pick up
the option and keep Kolb, or cut him loose and hope for
the best with Manning.
They made their choice, and it was to stick with the QB
they acquired last summer.
This is a QB who completed 57.7 percent of his passes and
threw for just nine touchdowns in his first season in the
Valley. A QB who played in only nine games due to various
A QB who the Cardinals decided they couldn't lose on the
hope they'd be able to convince Peyton Manning to
come to Arizona.
So now Manning will be leading some other team, likely
the Broncos, and the Cardinals will lick their wounds and
head into the season with Kolb and John Skelton.
The prospect doesn't faze Whisenhunt, not in the least.
"We sit here today in the same spot we were heading into
the offseason," he said. "That's with two experienced
quarterbacks who have both demonstrated positive things in
the past and who we feel good about."
The decision to stop going after Manning, though, was not
about what the team has in Skelton. If Whisenhunt truly
believed the Fordham product was capable of being the
starter, the team would have saved some money and given
Kolb the boot.
That they didn't is a sign that, while the team may like
Skelton, they still believe in Kolb - at least to the
point where they were too afraid to lose him just for a
slim chance at landing Manning.
And now it's up to Kolb to justify that belief.
The 27-year-old will have a full offseason with the team,
with a chance to learn the playbook and work on
familiarizing himself with his receivers, as well as a
upgraded revamped offensive line.
What he won't have is any more excuses.
If Kevin Kolb fails, it won't be due to a lack of effort.
He's proven to be a tireless worker and solid leader
though, as my colleague Vince Marotta points out, he may be a
little miffed at the team's effort to replace him.
At any rate, Kolb, first and foremost, must stay healthy.
Quarterbacks who miss half a season due to injury are of
little use to a team, no matter how talented they are. And
then, if on the field, he must outperform Skelton, who
will have every chance to win the starting job outright
For Kolb's sake, he better win the job and open the season
The Cardinals could not continue in the race for Peyton
Manning because it would have cost them Kevin Kolb. They
may not have come out on top, but they wouldn't have
excused themselves from contention, either, had it not
been for Kolb's bonus. Now it's up to Kolb to not only
prove they made the right call, but also prove that he has
a future as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
When I left for vacation on March 4th, the Valley was a
place where decent sports teams played in front of modest
crowds - at best.
The Coyotes' attendance struggles are well documented, the
Suns are failing to draw numbers close to what they did
just a few years ago, the Diamondbacks couldn't sell out
Chase Field and University of Phoenix Stadium miraculously
kept its sellout streak alive last season (though it's
worth noting rarely was the stadium actually full).
I returned March 9th to a different Arizona.
Sure, the Coyotes and Suns are still struggling at the
gates. And no, I don't expect Chase Field to be packed on
a nightly basis this summer.
But the fans here care, and they've proven it with the way
the Peyton Manning saga (is it a saga yet?) has gone down.
Take former local sportscaster Vic Lombardi, who
embarrassed himself on Twitter over the weekend with a
series of tweets, including this one:
No disrespect to the
Cardinals, but I've worked in both cities. Phoenix is a JV
football town compared to Denver. Not even close.
No doubt Lombardi would love to see Manning in Broncos
orange, because the team would be better and his job more
interesting. But does he have to take shots at Phoenix,
the place he once called home?
Needless to say, the Valley of the Sun did not take kindly
to his message, as fans and media alike fired off numerous
responses, all aimed at putting Lombardi in his place.
Did it work? Who knows, though Lombardi's Twitter issues
continued when he later reported that Broncos sources told
him they were 95 percent sure Manning was heading to the
Mile High City, a story that was refuted by everyone.
And whether or not Lombardi ends up being right - Manning
could, after all, choose Denver - the fact that Arizona
stepped up to the plate with both passion and knowledge
was impressive. Take these responses to other Lombardi
It's not even Bill Bidwill. It's Michael Bidwill. His
track record has shown that he's committed to winning
since taking over.
Phoenix will never be New York, Philadelphia or Chicago -
we just don't have that kind of attitude. And the Valley
will not soon be confused with Denver, Boston or Dallas.
But give us time, we'll get there.
"Unless something dramatic has changed, from everything
that I know, Steve is not planning to be back with Phoenix
next season" - Ric Bucher, ESPN NBA insider on Arizona
Sports 620's Doug and Wolf.
So you're saying Steve Nash is not going to re-sign
with the Suns when his contract expires? Why wouldn't a
38-year-old former league MVP want to spend his final
seasons with a team that has zero chance of winning an NBA
championship, which just so happens to be the only thing
Nash has yet to accomplish in his Hall of Fame career?
With the NBA's trade deadline just a couple weeks away,
the team has done all it can to put any talk of trading
Steve Nash somewhere to bed. Suns president of
basketball operations Lon Babby has told anyone who will
listen that the team will not move Nash unless he asks to
be dealt, and since there's been on indication of that
happening, no trade will be consummated.
Nash has talked about loyalty to his teammates and the
Suns organization, and Babby has cited the same reason as
for why the team won't actively pursue a deal, and that
sounds all well and good.
But I'm going to submit another reason for why the team
won't make a deal: fear.
The Phoenix Suns are afraid to trade Steve Nash.
It's no secret Nash is one of the most revered players in
Suns history, and one who can still play at a high level.
He's the voice and face of the Suns, and, as Babby has
dubbed him, the sun, moon and stars of the franchise.
As such you don't ship a player like that out without some
serious thought behind the move.