The word loyalty is defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance and the quality of being loyal to someone or something. To the Coyotes and the Pack of fans that surround them loyalty is everything.
Without going into too much detail let me give you a bit of background. The Phoenix Coyotes went into bankruptcy in May 2009 and became NHL owned. Since that time potential owners have come and gone, Glendale City Council votes have happened, and the ownership saga of the Coyotes has taken more twists and turns than a roller coaster ride. Finally in the past few months, the Coyotes have found a solid ownership group, the NHL has agreed to the sale and the Glendale City Council has approved the sale and the lease agreement for Jobing.com Arena. There are now as of July 2013 just a few more paperwork changes and signatures needed and a final NHL Board of Governors vote and then the whole thing will be done! Whew.
During the four years of instability and uncertainty of ownership, the Coyotes continued to play hockey and play it quite well. As happens in sports, contracts expire, players move to free agency and rosters begin to change. Yet with the Coyotes some interesting things began to happen. Players, coaches, and management came and they stayed.
I was standing in a stream in Greer, Arizona fishing when my phone, that has no cell reception up there, oddly buzzed in my pocket. This was September 2012, and it was my text notification that Coyotes Captain Shane Doan had just signed a contract to play four more years with the Coyotes. I dropped my pole and ran to find my brother to share the amazing news, forget the fish we had our captain! Our Captain is the epitome of loyal and his signing must have been a good omen because the loyalty did not stop there. The Coyotes then signed Oliver Ekman-Larsson to six more years in March 2013, and from there General Manager Don Maloney signed a multi-year contract in May. Next, the Coyotes signed Head Coach Dave Tippett to five more years in June and Mike Smith signed for six more years in July. Other core players have followed suit like Chipchura and Korpikoski. Remember, all of these signings took place without the finality of ownership or even a guarantee that the Coyotes would remain in Arizona. There is a level of loyalty in this organization that is rarely seen in professional sports.
This loyalty has spilled over to the fan base of the Coyotes. The Pack has quite frankly been through it. No guarantee that we would be able to see our team next year, or the next year after that? The team is staying, no wait they are moving, and no wait, wait. All of this would drive most fans away but the exact opposite has happened. The Pack has come together and grown larger and stronger through all of the turmoil. There are Pack members not only here in Arizona but all over the world, from Finland to Canada, to Fordville, ND. Phoenix Coyote season ticket sales, game attendance and TV viewing numbers are all on the rise! These numbers will only continue to grow from here with stable ownership. The Pack is loyal to this team, and all that they represent, now more than ever.
I would be remise if I did not close with the fact that, the face of the new ownership group, Anthony LeBlanc, has been around the ownership situation since the Coyotes originally went into bankruptcy in 2009 and has been trying to purchase the team ever since. I think he will fit in nicely, welcome to the loyalty family!