Several days ago a blog follower suggested I go to Jo Jo Fraser’s FB page. Jo Jo is a good guy. He has been and continues to be a staunch supporter of the Coyotes. His recent FB posting demonstrates the, up until now, silent sentiment of many Coyotes supporters. What is so surprising is his openness in questioning the direction of the team’s ownership and plans for the team. It is the first crack in the ice of support for a team performing poorly. His post evoked replies both pro and con. Here is what he posted and a sampling of replies:
November 29, 2014
“Driving home from the game tonight I couldn’t stop asking myself if I had fun tonight. I love NHL hockey as much as anything in this world but going to the arena is not fun right now. After riding the roller coaster since the great playoff run all I can see is the bleeding off of true NHL players that have not been replaced ( starting with Raffi and going through Verby ) . I have to ask myself who is to blame for this. Up till now I was unwilling to question the new ownership group because I was just so glad to have my team here but that started to change over the summer with no movement to get some quality talent to fill the holes that were vacated. I was told the idea was to put a winning product on the ice RIGHT away to start to build the fan base back. That has turned out to be all talk and no walk. We are now heading towards our third year out off the playoffs and the team seems to be in complete disarray with no clear direction. We are not a big team and we are not a fast team so what are we? What is the direction we are heading? GMDM says he thought we were going to be a playoff team. I am not sure what he is seeing because I see a team that is just a touch better than the oilers. I am finding myself expecting this team to lose. This is not a recipe to grow the game. If a die hard fan like myself is having a hard time getting up to go to a game how in the heck are we suppose to get new fans to come seem this team. We have the best captain in sports in the twilight of his career and he deserves better from ownership and management for his loyalty when the team was at its lowest. Oh and can someone tell me what all the great improvement to the arena over the summer were. All I see is they tore out the tile in the team shop and said it is newly remodeled. I hope something changes soon.”We are now heading towards our third year out off the playoffs and the team seems to be in complete disarray with no clear direction. We are not a big team and we are not a fast team so what are we? What is the direction we are heading? GMDM says he thought we were going to be a playoff team. I am not sure what he is seeing because I see a team that is just a touch better than the oilers. I am finding myself expecting this team to lose. This is not a recipe to grow the game. If a die hard fan like myself is having a hard time getting up to go to a game how in the heck are we suppose to get new fans to pay money to come seem this team. We have the best captain in sports in the twilight of his career and he deserves better from ownership and management for his loyalty when the team was at its lowest. Oh and can some one tell me what all the great improvement to the arena over the summer were. All I see is they tore out the tile in the team shop and said it is newly remodeled. I hope something changes soon.
Mike Doyle Well said Jo Jo. It is really sad. I’m starting to think we were sold a bill of goods by ownership to fail so they can move in 5 years.
Jon Pletcher Do you see the ownership walking around anymore? You saw that all the time last year. And they were always vocal as well. I see nor hear that no more. And honestly that really makes me nervous.
Paul Gheduzzi I’m getting really concerned, but not giving up, Jo Jo. Right now, I have a feeling that the ownership issue is getting sorted out with Andrew Barroway and afterwards we could see changes that can help improve the team on the ice. Same with their visibility. The Coyotes unfortunately are playing poorly in a number of areas while the young guys go through the growing pains. The veterans the team has are just not enough to compete in a tougher Western Conference. All I know is, the team cannot stay status quo. It can’t. And I’m not going to target either Don Maloney or Dave Tippett because this is on the players, not them. Agreed it is unfair to Shane Doan he isn’t getting to play for a winning team right now before retirement comes.
Mike Doyle They promised Doan a winner and that is why he signed a home town discount contract. Many teams offered him lots more money but being the great person Doan is he believed them just like we did.
Jeanne Ruairí I understand you’re frustrated, but the things this ownership group inherited to fix cannot be done overnight. The improvements to the arena was food, repairs, cleaning, extermination, etc that was ignored for 4yrs. As for GMDM, he’s done what he’s can with what he was given. We all want a winning team, but unfortunately it has to be rebuilt. I do still see the owners walk around, granted not as much as I think they’re probably try to figure out how to fix this funk. We’re not set up to fail, but any business bought out of 4yrs of bankruptcy doesn’t get fixed overnight.
Mike Doyle Losing 50 million to make twice that in the following 2 or 3 years is not out of the question. Tom you and I are normally on the same page but this time we differ in a huge way. I am always up beat about our team but I’m having second thoughts now. Many conversations you and I have had about internal situations are not a good sign either. I am very skeptical right now.
Paul Gheduzzi Understood, Tom. Again, I’m just concerned. But I already knew that the turnaround wouldn’t happen overnight. Just very tough because we saw some momentum after the 2012 playoff run and the securing of new ownership, keeping fans and growing the fan base is sensitive at this very stage to how the team plays. I have faith in everything working out, but it’s a concern if we don’t start seeing changes for the better in the near future.
Mike Doyle Everyone knew from the get go to get the fan base back we had to put a good product on the ice. That was a no brainer about sports teams in the valley.
Jo Jo Fraser Tom Kennedy makes some good points but I think maybe the priorities are screwed up. Nothing changes overnight but a direction for the team could be set. GMDM said we are a playoff team. That doesn’t add up. If they came out and said we are two or three years away I could get behind that. I don’t buy for a second that there are plans to move the team in four years I just want to see a direction for the team or hope for the future. I don’t like what I have seen so far. I am wrong a lot and I’m sure if I was privilege to information the big wigs have I would feel better but I don’t. I’m just a very disappointed and frustrated die hard fan. Going to a game and expecting the Coyotes to loose is not a fun place to be but it is a current reality.
There are many fans who are concerned. The unknown factor is Andrew Barroway. The general assumption is the NHL Board of Governors will approve the sale this month making him the majority owner. Little is publicly known about his plans for the team. We are sure to learn more when he is officially approved. A major take-away is Anthony LeBlanc, George Gosbee and all of the other current owners will be in the minority and can no longer determine the team’s eventual fate. It is to be expected that their visibility and cheerleading would wane given the circumstances. The bloom is off the rose as they realize they can no longer call the shots.
Jo Jo Fraser’s comments are illustrative of the growing fan base frustration and discontent. It is an issue the current owners must address quickly or their failure to grow the fan base will cause further cracks in Coyote ice.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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