ARIZONA COYOTES

Officially speaking, it’s Arizona Coyotes, not Phoenix

Oct 14, 2017, 5:45 PM | Updated: 5:49 pm
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)...
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Maybe you have noticed a common slip of the tongue by NHL referees when announcing penalties on the Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Maybe you have voiced your displeasure about this mistake on social media or from the stands.

“Hey ref: It’s Arizona! It has been since the 2014-15 season.”

Maybe you have dreamed a similar dream to Five For Howling managing editor Sarah Hall’s. Every time the referee says “Phoenix” instead of “Arizona” when announcing a penalty, a dollar goes in a jar for the Coyotes’ marketing budget.

Take heart, Arizona Coyotes fans. The league’s officials are working on it.

“Our guys have been getting better at it but our priority is calling the game, not announcing it,” said Stephen Walkom, the NHL’s vice president and director of officiating. “The average fan is probably thinking, ‘if they can’t get our name right, how are they supposed to call the game fair,’ but there is certainly no malice on our part. It’s not a conscious thing. It just goes to show you that old habits die hard.”

The Minnesota Wild, the Colorado Avalanche, the Florida Panthers and the New Jersey Devils also use a state instead of a city in front of their nickname. The New York Rangers’ and New York Islanders’ first name is both a state and a city, and the Carolina Hurricanes appear to be pushing the dream of north-south unification.

None of those teams, however, has changed its first name since arriving in its current destination. The Coyotes changed their first name in an effort to embrace the entire state of Arizona and grow the game here in the desert.

NHL officials know that change was made. Walkom, who was open, affable and hilarious in a brief interview Friday, said he sends memos reminding officials when they get it wrong.

“We’re going to get better at it because we can’t get any worse at it,” he quipped. “We tell them ‘just think like a Canadian when they get to the mic. Think, ‘eh,’ like ‘A’ for Arizona.’

There are far greater issues facing the league and the local team, which is off to an 0-3-1 start, but Coyotes fans consider this a matter of basic respect.

“You expect the refs to stay updated on the rules; they should be able to stay updated on the team names,” said Litchfield Park resident Trey Terry, a Coyotes season ticket holder. “No one still calls the Arizona Cardinals “Phoenix” or the Brooklyn Nets “New Jersey.” It’s not as confusing as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim becoming the Los Angeles Angels.”

“I feel annoyed and disrespected,” added Mammoth, Arizona resident and Coyotes fan Claudia Rash. “That’s not our name any more. Get with the times, zebras.”

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Officially speaking, it’s Arizona Coyotes, not Phoenix