The Phoenix Coyotes are off to their third best start in franchise history, but there’s nobody around to see it. The players are wondering where the fans are and can’t help but feel a little bit snubbed with every effort going into putting in a good performance on the ice.
“We’re here. We’re not going anywhere,” winger Scottie Upshall said. “If we’re winning games, why not come support a winning club?”
Of course, many fans are probably skeptical about the future of the team and are still a little sore over years without success. But should that mean that they shouldn’t show their support for the club now? And that’s to say nothing about whether or not the fair weather fans in Phoenix are even deserving of a club if they are so trivial with their support…
But I digress.
Crowds in Phoenix are sparse and nobody, not even Gary Bettman, can deny that at this point. The crowds simply haven’t come, even with their team climbing the ladder in the Western Conference and posting some seriously impressive wins. Hockey in Phoenix is fun to watch, yet nobody’s there to fill the arena when the puck drops.
Of course, Bettman and Co. are willing to blame the “damage done” over the summer as the genesis of the problem. “I don’t think anything we’ve seen the first month of the season, from an attendance standpoint, surprises us,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. “Obviously, there was a lot of damage done to this franchise over the summer.”
The team did sell out their home opener after gutting ticket prices. And they’ve started having players to go local malls and shopping centres to hand out tickets and greet the people. It’s almost like starting over in Phoenix, with the offering of a far-flung shuttle service to bring fans in from metro Phoenix part of the PR blitz.
But with any of this work? Or will the league finally admit that hockey in Phoenix was probably not the greatest of ideas even with a winning team on the ice?
Only Gary Bettman’s arrogance knows for sure.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.