Hockey in the Desert?

By: Marissa Burkett, Staff Writer

Tied 1-1 at the end of third period, the Arizona Coyotes eventually lost to the Carolina Hurricanes last Tuesday in overtime in what I feel was just a marginally interesting hockey game. Although normally a boisterous event, the crowd seemed annoyed with the complete absence of even one fight on the ice. Even so, the fans seemed very loyal to the Coyotes (strangely pronounced like this in Arizona) which got me thinking,… Why?

Photo Courtesy of Burkett
Photo Courtesy of Burkett

Clearly I know that most professional sports teams are made up of individuals from all over the country, the world even. But it never seemed so apparent until this hockey game. Of the team’s 25 players, exactly zero of them are from Arizona.  There is a reason for this and that is that Phoenix does not have any snow.  Because there is no snow, in general, young people play other sports that are more relevant to the local climate.

Photo Courtesy of Burkett
Photo Courtesy of Burkett

In fact, the closest hometown of one of the players is Denver, 821 miles away. The Coyotes are stacked with men from Michigan, Wisconsin, Canada and the Eastern bloc, all places rich in winter weather and ice.

Photo Courtesy of Burkett
Photo Courtesy of Burkett

Coyotes’ ticket sales are down, so much so that I got mine for free at last week’s Waste Management Open.  Franchise owners speculate that it is because the Coyotes are facing their first losing season since 2008-2009. I speculate it is because ice hockey does not belong in the desert. Kids in AZ do not grow up playing hockey and thus don’t understand the game. Without the support of a new generation of fans, the future and sustainability of a hockey franchise in Arizona is unknown.

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