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Phoenix fans are OK with Winnipeg having an NHL team… Just not theirs

Mar 29, 2011, 11:01 PM EDT

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Having gotten to tour around Jobing.com Arena in Glendale and to get on the ground and see how things go hockey-wise in Arizona, I got the same feeling you would in any other place in the NHL. The team is the same, the staff is the same, the facility is a gorgeous jewel in the middle of the desert. The Coyotes are led by a captain that embodies what it means to be a leader in the NHL, and there’s enough characters around the team to be extremely entertaining in any city anywhere in North America.

The fans are welcoming, warm and knowledgeable which helps make everything that’s going on surrounding the team off the ice all the more difficult. With the ongoing sale saga involving Matthew Hulsizer and the Goldwater Institute surrounding Hulsizer’s proposal to get public money to help him buy the Coyotes, the fans and residents of Glendale (not always a mutual association) are left in the awkward lurch of continuing to spend their own money on a team that they’re not even sure will be around next year.

Jobing.com Arena and the surrounding Westgate City Center filled with all sorts of economic goodies and condominiums offer plenty of things for the fans and residents to help spend their money but without an anchor tenant at the arena, prospects become quite bleak.

Jordan Frank is a Coyotes fan from Glendale who’s been a fan of the team since they moved from Winnipeg in 1996. Hearing from him, you can tell just how tough the situation is for fans there.

“I see both sides of the story. There’s no legal thing [Goldwater Institute] can do. They can try to stop it. It all comes down to whether or not the city can afford to shell out that much money in this economy. I don’t think so, but at the same time we spent tons of money building this stadium and if it’s empty… What’s the point?”

“At the end of the day, I’d be upset because it does more harm than good if the team moves, ” Frank says.

Amy Jo Green is another huge supporter of the team and she says that Goldwater’s motives in this aren’t quite looking out for the public good so much anymore as it is looking out for what’s best for themselves.

“Goldwater has latched onto this situation as an opportunity for significant publicity and fundraising for their own betterment.  If Goldwater only cared about the taxpayers, they would not be doing radio shows in Canada and doing idiotic publicity stunts like joining Facebook groups for the return of the Jets.”

Goldwater’s tactics of late throughout this affair have caught the attention of fans and they’re not happy with it. Phoenix morning radio host Brian “Sludge” Haddad has started a Facebook group of his own to mock the public watchdog commission and rally support for the team called the Sludgewater Institute.

The words I heard from lots of people around the Coyotes were simple and stuff that doesn’t provide Winnipeg supporters with a lot of fire: “We’re fine with a team going to Winnipeg… We just don’t want it to be this team.”

Former Jets fans should be empathetic to the situation given what happened when the Jets left Manitoba in the mid-1990s. While many fans in Manitoba are frothing at the mouth at the prospect of getting the NHL back, perhaps they should take a step back in the shoes they were standing in 15 years ago before getting too anxious.

  1. galuple - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    Well maybe they could show how much they love the team by actually showing up to watch.

    • derpdederpdederp - Mar 31, 2011 at 12:26 AM

      no need. the fact that they have fans, and i use the term loosely, is enough for gary bettman to do what it takes to make sure this team is in phoenix long enough to hemorrhage another $300 million. apparently that is a better scenario than giving the underserved hockey-crazy market that is canada another team

  2. rupertslander - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    So – call me crazy but I will repeat my proposed simple solution one more time…

    – Suspend the Phoenix Coyotes franchise for one (and only one) season.

    – Grant Winnipeg an expansion franchise and the Coyotes roster for 2011-2012.

    – Assuming things can be sorted out in court then sell the Coyotes franchise to Hulsizer, and have them resume play in 2012, and give them half the Coyotes/Jets roster.

    If not everyone wins then at least… nobody really loses. Plus you get this cool alignment for the Western Conference:

    Central – Colorado, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis
    Northwest – Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg
    Midwest – Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Minnesota
    Pacific – Anaheim, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose

    Any questions?

    • thepokerdude - Mar 30, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      If your idea is as unpopular as the votes say there’s a good chance Bettman will adopt it.

  3. derpdederpdederp - Mar 30, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    “We’re fine with a team going to Winnipeg… We just don’t want it to be this team.”

    funny how people in winnipeg were probably fine with phoenix getting a team, just not their team in 1996. the main difference is gary bettman did not fight tooth and nail to save their franchise, so i have to disagree with you when you say “former Jets fans should be empathetic to the situation”. gary bettman has bent over backwards to save this franchise but its not working out and he needs to realize that he made a mistake and move on

    • govtminion - Mar 31, 2011 at 1:38 AM

      That would involve Bettman admitting he made a mistake. I would call that about as likely as the Oilers winning the Cup next year.

      • derpdederpdederp - Mar 31, 2011 at 1:41 AM

        i would say a 2012 cup champion oilers team is more likely than bettman realizing, let alone admitting, what a colossal fuck-up of a commissioner he is

  4. danodanilo - Mar 31, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    You expect Winnipeggers to sympathize with the situation of the very market that took our team away from us 15 years ago then failed to even attend the games??

    I’m sorry if this is going to damage sales at your shopping mall though.. that’s a real heartbreak… maybe you can get some kind of federal bailout funding to help soften the blow of that major economic strain…

    go jets.

  5. emperor83 - Apr 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Jets sucked. Coyotes suck. If there’s any team that needs to return, it’s the Hartford Whalers.

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 2, 2011 at 12:52 AM

      sitting in 4th place in the west, the tougher of the 2 conferences, means the team sucks? if you say so…

      • emperor83 - Apr 3, 2011 at 9:43 AM

        hooray for a fluke season…

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      hmm pretty sure they were 4th place last year too and youre just an ignorant troll

      • emperor83 - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:50 AM

        ah, the ever-so-loosely and often unsuccessful attempt at an “auto-win” in arguments, the “troll” card, spit out only by those whose IQs rank up there with Kelly Bundy and Carl from Sling Blade. Obviously, the Jets left Winnipeg for a reason, and to decide that Phoenix, of all places, was a better idea than staying in Winnipeg, speaks volumes about how much the NHL and the Jets truly cared about Winnipeg. Sure, I have my problems with the Coyotes, but better them than the alternative. *coughjetscough*

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:25 AM

        haha get a life

  6. emperor83 - Apr 4, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Does your mommy know you’re using the computer?

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:14 AM

      when we take into account the fact you believe 2 seasons of finishing 4th in the tougher conference in the nhl is a complete fluke it think i could ask you the same question. this is a hockey blog but you dont seem to know the first thing about hockey. that or maybe youre just incredibly biased against the coyotes or winnipeg or canada.your comments have just been useless and pointless, so i think were done here

    • govtminion - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:21 AM

      Not to intrude, but…

      “Obviously, the Jets left Winnipeg for a reason, and to decide that Phoenix, of all places, was a better idea than staying in Winnipeg, speaks volumes about how much the NHL and the Jets truly cared about Winnipeg.”

      Fair enough, but your earlier comment…

      “Jets sucked. Coyotes suck. If there’s any team that needs to return, it’s the Hartford Whalers.”

      Haven’t heard too much out of the Whalers lately- how are they doing? The NHL and the Whalers obviously cared about the city of Hartford as well, didn’t they? By your logic, Hartford deserves a team again just as much as Winnipeg, after all.

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