Tonight was the last of two NHL games our crew will take in live from the arena seats while talking to fans for our film JET FUEL. We were in Chicago Thursday night and are in Phoenix tonight.
When we arrived At Jobing.com arena we were overwhelmed by a celebrities reception at McFadden’s. I assumed it was because they had all heard of and supported the filming of JET FUEL. What I soon realized was that the patio which was taken over by those in blue and white, were giving a heroes welcome to every Jets fan that walked by and booing everyone else.
It was clear that Jets fans had a hostile takeover on their minds and with recent claims that Phoenix didn’t care about hockey, it’s not surprising. It’s fair to say the Jets fans won possession over McFadden’s for the night.
In the arena was another question all together. While the game didn’t seem to be a sell out with empty seats in the house, it was determined it was which is a good thing being the Coyotes home opener. Those in attendance were every bit as loud or louder than the Winnipeg contingent that took up about a third of the attendance.
After an excellent experience in Chicago, tonight I am proud to be an NHL fan. Not because of the amazing turnout and passion displayed by Jets fans in Glendale, but because of how the Coyotes fans defended their turf.
In hindsight the Coyotes situation is not that different than what happened in Winnipeg over 1995-96 or for that matter what happened in Chicago a few years before they won the cup.
At their lows all three teams had an owner that either was non-existent or might as well have been. How can you expect even the most passionate fan to shell out their hard earned cash when there isn’t a solid owner behind them.
Thankfully, for the NHL the Blackhawks situation was rectified when the younger Wurtz took over. Winnipeg is back and looks to be set up long term with True North on board.
Phoenix is another question, but will a new owner fix everything in the desert? Tonight showed me that not only are there passionate Coyotes fans but that passion easily rivals that of the Jets or Chicago. There just isn’t enough of them…yet.
During the dark days in both Winnipeg and Chicago the same could be said. The buildings were half empty. Now if you can get a ticket to a game in either city you jump at the opportunity.
I honestly believe the same thing will be said once they find an owner for the Coyotes. I believe we also witnessed the start of a beautiful love/hate relationship between Winnipeg and Phoenix that could rival the Bombers/Riders rivalry.
During the game the Coyotes fans took every opportunity to rub it into their guests faces. An early two nothing lead gave them plenty of opportunity. Be it lackluster play by the Jets or the intensity of the Phoenix crowd (yes you read that correctly) but any “Go Jets Go” chants that were attempted where drowned out by “Let’s go Coyotes”.
For years we complained that Phoenix didn’t deserve a hockey team. In one game Jets fans learnt that not only does Phoenix deserve a team, but we need them in the league too.
I for one wish the Coyotes luck in landing a new owner and want to thank the Coyotes fans that took time to speak with us and show us your passion.
Hockey is a great game and has great fans even in Phoenix and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. If you don’t believe it, go to Phoenix for a game yourself, while you can still get a ticket.