I’m one of the worst type of hockey fans. I heckle, jeer and insult the other team. I’m loud, rough and generally obnoxious. And it’s part of hockey. Hockey fans are an in-your-face bunch during an unimportant game, a throwaway. The bigger the game, the bolder fans like myself get. If it’s the playoffs, forget it. You might as well plug your ears and hope my voice is gone by the second intermission.
Generally I would write this to mockingly apologize in advance to all the fans sitting around me, especially fans of the visiting team. But tonight at Jobing.com Arena, I’m no longer that irritating guy you tell your friends about because I can’t afford it. For all I know, this could be the last home Coyotes game…ever.
My dad grew up in Michigan playing hockey. When I was a kid, he taught me to skate, but I can’t play hockey to save my life. He raised me as a hometown fan and taught me to love the sport at Roadrunners game in the old Veteran’s Coliseum. I wasn’t allowed to cheer for a pro club somewhere else, so the when the Coyotes arrived I jumped on the bandwagon.
The years have gone by, owners have changed, players have come and gone and the team has changed in look and location, but they’re still the Coyotes. My team. The hometown team. And they may be gone for good after tonight.
Tonight is about hockey. Everything that makes the game great. Its pitfalls, its peaks and the playoffs.
Tonight is about saying goodbye to a team I’ve been angry with, yelled at and cursed.
Tonight is about applauding, cheering and loving my team in the desert.
Tonight is about appreciating what the Coyotes have done for hockey, the Valley and myself.
The last White Out. The last time I’ll watch Shane Doan skate. The last time I’ll howl with the crowd.
If tonight is adios, Coyotes, I can only say thank you. You’ve struggled and earned your way into the hearts of the Valley. You’ve always made the best of what you have. You’ve struggled, fought and persevered through the hell that is being a Phoenix sports team. You’ve earned the respect, gratitude and pride of a city that will only appreciate you once you’re gone.
As for me, I will be in section 206, Row K, proudly wearing my Shane Doan jersey. If you leave, it’s getting shadowboxed and put on my wall. If you leave, I can say I was at the last home game.
If you leave, I’ll be proud to say I was there. I saw the first and the last of hockey in the Valley.
No matter if you leave after this season or stay permanently in Arizona, I will always be honored to call myself a fan of the Phoenix Coyotes.