There is a really good piece on the Coyotes in the September 29, 2013 Arizona Republic by Sarah McLellan entitled Put the excuses on ice. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/coyotes/articles/20130928new-ownership-solid-core-mean-phoenix-coyotes-must-step-up.html .
Ms. McLellan has been perhaps the only reporter covering the Coyotes who remained unbiased and reported on them impartially throughout the entire 4 year saga of seeking an owner for the team. As she looks to the Coyotes’ future she makes some excellent observations. Among them, “The Coyotes just believed they needed the presence of ownership to get there (Stanley Cup). And now that they have that, it’s time to prove they can be better.” Or, “That challenge should bring pressure. This is a new era for the organization, one without the safety net of low expectations and ready-made excuses for failure.” She’s right. For the past four years the team could always point to ownership uncertainty as a reason for not quite getting beyond the next level. That mind set is no longer relevant. They will stand or fall based upon their cohesiveness and talents as a team. As Tippett says, “You have to build a core to continue the identity of that team to see if you can push it as far as you can.” Don Maloney and Dave Tippett, magicians that they are, have done exactly that.
As McLellan says, the ownership limbo “masked the pitfalls of a bargain-basement budget…” The new owners, IceArizona, have to date shown their willingness to revitalize this team and this franchise. That commitment will continue to require a steep price tag over the next few years by renewing contracts of their core players so that as Maloney and Tippett have said it does not remain a team continually in flux. Their current advertising campaign, “Hungrier than ever,” is good. While it connects with the fan base steeped in the team’s history, it misses the mark in connecting emotionally with new fans. Retaining a family friendly atmosphere at the arena that does not require highly visible boobs ala the Jerry Moyes era or young ladies cleaning ice and getting new concessionaires with better fare and prices that do not sky-rocket into the stratosphere are backbone components that will help to attract new fans, especially families. The other traditional sports, baseball, basketball and football offer ticket prices, with the exception of their occasional promotions, that do little to encourage continual and regular family participation. Yet it obviously will be family participation grows the next generation of hockey fans.
Ms. McLellan’s observation that the excuse of lack of ownership can be relied upon for the team’s quality of play coupled with ownership uncertainty are gone for good. As Sarah McLellan says, “The Coyotes failed at failing.” Now they must succeed at winning.
©Joyce Clark, 2013
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