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Burns: Sampling the Phoenix Coyotes

It’s not that I don’t like Mexican food.

It’s just that every time The Decision-Maker asks where we should eat out, it never really comes up. It’s always the pizza place down the street, the sushi restaurant at the mall, or the burger joint across the way. We rarely pick Mexican and when we do I always struggle, staring the menu forever.

Here at the Coyotes vs. Atlanta Thrashers game and it’s the same thinking. It’s not that I don’t like hockey. I just never choose hockey.

It might be time to re-think both my choices.

One simple fact pulled me here to arena: This is the latest in the season the Coyotes have been in first place in their division since moving here, way back in 1996. Don’t go engraving anything just yet. The teams in the Western Conference are crammed together tighter than me in a smart car. This upcoming road trip could change everything but for now, consider the alternatives.
The Suns are obviously playing better over the last month but they seem to be in search of their identity, game to game and sometimes quarter to quarter. The Sun Devil basketball squad is in search of a Pac-10 win.

In that void I’m suddenly and strangely curious about a team that, in some ways, is blazing new ground. Let’s see where this goes.

The Coyotes notched their sixth straight win here Thursday night, a 4-3 victory over Atlanta. Shane Doan scored his first goal in weeks and the team got tough down the stretch close it up. Next up: a brutal road trip with stops in Nashville, Philly, Tampa Bay, Columbus and Chicago. Home games against Detroit and Dallas loom. Hardly hard-core hockey analysis to be sure, but it’s clear the next two weeks could define this season.

Right now, I’m that blackjack player who is standing at the table placing a small bet. I’ll stand here for a little while longer before deciding whether to sit down and stay a while. For now that’s the best I can do. After all, a quick Google maps search reveals that the round trip from my Gilbert house to Arena is a cool 90 miles. I need an oil change to get out here. Enjoy that expense report boss man.

But it’s not really about the commute. It’s about the clutter.

The best band of all time, U2, once sang “the best of us are geniuses of compression.” Between a wife and her career, two borderline teenagers – one of whom applies Axe body spray like he’s painting a car and the other who texts her little thumbs off – and all the other teams that I’m naturally more inclined to have interest in, it’s just not that easy. Sometimes in that compression, that attempt to simplify, I just don’t have as much time to follow the Coyotes as I should. You may say that’s lame. I say that’s life.

So I suppose that’s what this column is all about. I can’t promise to ever love this sport enough to grow my hair long, slick it back and call myself Melrose. But I can promise to try. And if the Coyotes keep this level of play up into the spring, I’ll do better than that.
I’ll grab some Mexican food on my way out west.


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