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Off the Ice: Traditions aren’t tradition for the Phoenix Coyotes

Traditions give any team an identity, but especially so in
hockey.

Yes, the players, building, staff or whatever else help
create a team, but tradition defines a team. Whether it be
the playoff octopus thrown on the ice in Detroit or
Vancouver fans bellowing out “Lou!” every time goalie
Roberto Luongo makes a great save.

I was lucky enough to witness one of the best traditions
in hockey on Wednesday night: Chicago Blackhawks fans cheering all the way
through the national anthem
.

It was impressive. It was intimidating. It was one of the
coolest sports moments of my life, but that was it.

Despite a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, the crowd
was quiet. I could only hear a hum of conversation between
organ-organized cheers — such as “Go, Hawks, go” –,
moans marking a missed shot or cheers marking a successful
one, but nothing else.

The Phoenix Coyotes constantly take heat from teams, fans
and analysts alike because of low attendance numbers and a
weak fan base. The numbers I can’t argue with, but I can
argue the weak fan base point.

The Blackhawks are one of the most storied franchises in
hockey and have sold out hundreds of games over the past
few seasons. They’ve won four Stanley Cups. Their fans are
vociferous everywhere — except inside the United Center.

They’re the exact opposite of Coyotes fans, who are quiet
in the community (in comparison) but loud inside
Jobing.com Arena. They may not have a distinct tradition,
other than the atrocious White Out, but they are loud
during games with chants, jeers and the near-constant
“Let’s go, Coyotes.”

The Coyotes won’t have solid traditions for years to come,
but some are starting, like howls during the anthem. And a
lot of traditions begin by sheer happenstance and it takes
time for those weird moments to occur.

In regards to the anthem cheers, let Chicago keep them.
It’s one of the great NHL traditions and should stay there
to be experienced. What the Coyotes will develop, I don’t
know, but for now, I’ll take the loud game over the loud
anthem any day.