As the news broke on Gambo & Ash Tuesday that the Coyotes were declaring bankruptcy I had quite a few thoughts, all at the same time…
1) I hate what’s happened. I love hockey and I love going to games. I don’t want to lose the Coyotes. However, I thought the game operations were awful. I never thought the franchise did enough to entertain fans beyond the game itself. If you’re going to leave it to the game of hockey to entertain the fans, you better have a good team. When you go to the playoffs once a decade, you don’t have a good team.
2) The franchise deserves what it got for one simple reason. The Coyotes never had the guts to fire Wayne Gretzky. How many chances to fail does one guy get? He coached veteran teams and couldn’t make the playoffs. He coached youth movement teams and couldn’t make the playoffs. This team made it all the way to a 4-seed this year (right before the all-star break) and then completely collasped. It’s clear Wayne Gretzky couldn’t lead this team to a playoff trip. He was given continued chances for two reasons: 1) he’s the Great One, and 2) an owner. Neither of those reasons mean he can coach.
3) I thought of all those fans who would e-mail me and blame me for the fate of the Coyotes. A ton of listeners would express their frustration with Doug & Wolf for not taking a stronger position to help the Coyotes. I feel a strong desire to help the Coyotes because they donated a special gift to “Doug & Wolf’s Big Pitch for PCH.” It doesn’t change one thing though. We are a business. Of course Wolf and I talk about things we both have a passion for but that comes with limits. I have a passion for the history of baseball, most of you don’t. I have a passion for the Civil War. How strong would our ratings be if I did a Civil War Show on War 620 KTAR?
The Doug & Wolf Show doesn’t dictate to you what is relevant. You dictate to us. The television ratings for the Coyotes are horrible, meaning you don’t watch. The radio ratings are horrible, which means you don’t listen. The attendence is OK but the % of capacity is below only the D-backs. Since the D-backs draw 12,000 more fans and have better TV and radio ratings, we assume you want us to talk D-backs over Coyotes. These are business decisions made in the best interest of Sports 620 KTAR and Doug & Wolf. Our show has absolutely no responsiblility to make a franchise relevant, even though we want them all to be successful.
4) The franchise also got what they deserve by moving to Glendale. I live in Goodyear. I’m a West Valley guy. I completely have bought into the hard life on this side of the tracks while the East Valley has caviar on cereal. It was still a drastic mistake to move to the West Valley. The team wanted to run for the money. They wanted to stick it to Scottsdale for not building an arena for the team. The Coyotes cut off their nose, gouged their eyes out, ripped out their tounge and yanked out their Adam’s Apple (like Dalton did to Bobby in Road House) just to spite their face. When the bulk of your fans live 45 minutes away, why do you think they’ll drive that for 41 home games a year?
5) The NFL is an event. There are only 8 games a year and almost all of them fall on a weekend. Fans will drive for the event. No one’s going to drive to see hockey to the extent that is needed to sustain a team. The Coyotes screwed up at almost every level of sports management 101 and it’s the fans that are left holding the bag.
6) I think this is the only time a team is on the cusp of leaving (and they will leave) that I’ve felt bad for a player more than the fans. Shane Doan had done whatever was asked to build this franchise. He has spent hours away from his family to attend countless charity functions and team promotional events. He has done everything to make hockey work in the desert. The bankruptcy of the Coyotes can’t be laid on his feet at all.
7) Don Maloney is good at his job. A lot of the “mid-level” employees that you’ll never know are good at their job. In the cruel world of sports, none of that matters. We’ll never know if hockey will work in the desert. We do know the Coyotes won’t work and that is because of the decisions made at the highest levels of the franchise.
8) The Coyotes have treated me with great class the years I’ve been here. When a front office treats me with respect the second I come to town, I can’t thank them enough. As I’ve moved around the country, I quickly become fans of the teams that root for my success and welcome me to town. The Coyotes have done that. I wish them well.