Note: This column appears in the 3/27 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 3/28 issue of the Peoria Times
The Phoenix Coyotes are currently, as of this Monday, 12th in the Western Conference standings. They are six points away from that 8th spot and the playoff berth that comes with it, but also six points away from finishing in second-to-last place. They only have five games left in the season. Barring some unforeseen circumstance in which Isiah Thomas takes over the top 11 teams in the Western Conference for the last week of the season, the Coyotes are not making the playoffs.
Based on the above information, the Coyotes have pretty much played to expectations this season. But leaving it at that would dismiss a few very important things. For example, at one point during the season -- January, to be specific -- Phoenix was arguably the hottest team in the NHL, when, in that span, they won 11 games and dropped only three. If they could have simply played at that pace for the entire season, they would have been like, the best hockey team ever. So the Coyotes were only six months of good hockey away from being the greatest team ever, so there’s that. Furthermore, last week captain Shane Doan notched his 70th point of the season, a career best for him, and a momentous occasion for the franchise. But most important of all, the Phoenix Coyotes may have -- I’m not sure yet, I haven’t officially decided -- made me, like, a fan.
Now, as the four of you who read this column are already aware of, I know very little about hockey. In most cases, this would make me largely unqualified to write about hockey. However, I know very little about a lot of stuff, and I still like to write about stuff, so there. The point is that, the Coyotes have made me want to learn.
I have been to about five games this season -- which is, by the way, five more than the amount of Yankee games I have been to since I moved here -- so I am pretty much an expert on the ‘Yotes at this point. (Real fans call them the ‘Yotes…I think.) Also, I am kidding. But during every game, I find myself pulling strongly for the ‘Yotes, and for the few days or so after each of those games, I’ll find myself watching them play on TV. (One reason I haven’t fully committed to them yet is that I react the same way every four years during the World Cup, when I vow to become a serious soccer fan, only to forget about it a week later.) But they are seeping into my subconscious. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and randomly yell, “Go ‘Yotes!” Not sure what that means.
Non-Coyotes fan: Wtf?
Real 'Yotes fan: I'll take five of those please!
Ironically, because I have never been a hockey fan, the Coyotes have the ability to woo me. And they sort of have. Take last Thursday for example. I went to the game with my wife and in-laws, and the ‘Yotes scored with about 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at five and force overtime against the Kings. It was a really good game, and even though they eventually lost the shootout, the Coyotes scored at least four goals, so everybody in the arena got a free Taco Bell chalupa. I also caught a shirt from the t-shirt spewing bazooka gun, and booed the refs after the ‘Yotes received a five-minute penalty. I mean, if that’s not being a hockey fan, then I don’t know what is.
Of course, all of these feelings of impending fandom could directly relate to the fact that the Phoenix Coyotes were recently awarded the Best Member Club Marketing Campaign for this season by the NHL. That would explain the night sweats. And the chalupas. I also picked a great time to come to this realization that I might be a Coyotes fan, now that the season is pretty much over. Oh well. There’s always next season. That’s what us ‘Yotes fans like to say.
What do you mean you don't have a veggie-chalupa?!