Life without Coyotes would lead to what could have been

Mar 10, 2011, 5:38 AM | Updated: 5:40 am

It’s time for a little story.

Once upon a time there was a football team called the Arizona Cardinals. And they weren’t any good at all. The players were virtually unwatchable. The ownership was about as motivated as a teenager with homework. The stands were empty; a mixture of shiny gold colored metal and drab concrete grey. Other teams, namely the Cowboys, considered Arizona a home game. The phrase “TV blackout” was a permanent fixture in the local sports vernacular.

It would have been a fine joke if you lived anywhere but here. It was turn-your-head embarrassing. A civic stain.

This middling vagabond NFL franchise seemed ripe to relocate yet again and many years ago it felt like a potential reality. Los Angeles was looking for a franchise and the Cardinals were frequently mentioned as a team that could pack up and move. Predictably, phone lines on sports talk shows (like mine) melted down.

LET ‘EM MOVE…..the fans ranted.

WHO NEEDS THE CARDINALS AND THE BIDWILL’S, LA CAN TAKE THE BUMS OFF OUR HANDS….they screamed.

WE’LL GET OUR OWN TEAM, WITH OUR OWN NICKNAME AND OUR OWN COLORS…MAYBE JERRY COLANGELO WILL RUN IT….they fantasized.

I lived through this mess. It was like having the same conversation for three years straight.

Now…..imagine that it had happened….imagine that the Cardinals actually left town. Think of all you would have missed. Think of everything that you got to see and experience. Continue to dream that we would have been awarded a new franchise. Maybe, maybe not; there’s no way to be certain. Envision the void that would have been created with absolutely no guarantees that void have been filled.

Now think about the Phoenix Coyotes. What if they leave? What would we be missing out on if they do?

Clearly it’s not a one to one comparison. The NHL is not the NFL. No one, not even the Goldwater Institute, is openly rooting for the Coyotes to leave. If anything it’s just the opposite. The indifference about their very existence is their defining feature.

Maybe you don’t care if they leave and in the interest of total honesty, if a Suns game and Coyotes game are on the same night, I’m watching the Suns every single time. But I know enough people who do care and who benefit from having an NHL team inhabit that building 40+ times a year. I know I’m trying more and more to give the Coyotes a seat at the table every now and then. I also know that it’s never a positive for a community to lose a team, ever. We’re a soft enough sports market as it is…losing a franchise from the “big four” enhances our weak perception.

In a city this size and in an arena that shiny and new, to have the Coyotes pack up and leave for Winnipeg or goodness knows where else would be flat-out embarrassing.

Nobody could have imagined the Cardinals would be worth keeping but they were. Perhaps the Coyotes will enjoy the same fortune and we’ll all be spared wondering what might have been.

Penguin Air

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Life without Coyotes would lead to what could have been