Coyotes in Arizona Wrap Up their Season on a Melancholy Note

Jimmie Lister and Sally Wolfert have been here from the start.

On October 10, 1996, when the team was still known as the Phoenix Coyotes and played at America West Arena, each had gone to the team’s inaugural home game. Each has stuck with the team through a great deal both on and off the ice for 27 seasons as a season ticket holder.

They now anticipated that this would be the final NHL game played in Arizona for a number of years as they stood at center ice for the ceremonial face-off prior to the Arizona Coyotes’ 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday at Mullett Arena.

Being outside with Oilers center Connor McDavid and Coyotes forward Clayton Keller was amazing. It was terrible.

Wolfert said, “I am sad,” “I am on the verge of tears, because it’s like a death in the family. There’s a loss. … Something else will fill those evenings. But it’s like an end of something, and it’s always sad when something ends.”

In the midst of numerous ownership groups, building plans, and even a bankruptcy, Arizona has been considered by the NHL as a potential strong hockey market. All it requires is the ideal arena in the ideal location.

The Coyotes concluded their second season in Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena, a 4,600-seat arena meant to serve as a makeshift home until they constructed a permanent one. This summer, owner Alex Meruelo intends to place a bid on a plot of land in Phoenix. Utah wants a team, but a new arena is, at most, a few years away.

The admirers showed there to bid adieu.

Son of the team’s all-time top scorer, Shane Doan, Josh Doan, a rookie forward for the Coyotes, stated, “There’s a lot of disappointed people out there,” “People are upset, and it’s going to hurt. It’s going to sting for a while.”

“As a player you want to feel apologetic for everything, but as someone who’s grown up in the Valley (of the Sun) and grown up with it, you kind of feel the pain as well. … You just focus on the game, enjoy the last game, and who knows what’s going to happen down the road? For now, the Coyotes are Arizona’s team for one more day, so you just embrace it.”

During warm-up, homemade signs were positioned against the window. “STAY OR LEAVE WE WILL FOLLOW.” “THANKS FOR 27 SEASONS OF MEMORIES.” “I WILL MISS YOU!” “Yotes 4 ever!” “HOWL.”

There were jerseys from current and former Coyotes players. Doan Shane. Briere Daniel. Amonte Tony. Jeremy Roenick. Gartner Mike. Schmaltz, Nick. Lawson Crouse. Keller, naturally.

“It’s just a special place in my heart, and there were a lot of emotions, for sure, just thinking about the future,” stated Keller, the top scorer for the Coyotes, who has played in Arizona for his whole eight-season NHL career. “It’s the last one at least for a little bit in Arizona, so yeah, we wanted to have a good effort and show that to the fans.”

The mood was everything but funereal. The puck dropped ceremoniously by Lister, and then the game felt like a game. Crowds of Coyotes cheered for goals. The sizable group of Oilers supporters did as well. In addition to giving Shane Doan a standing ovation, the supporters waved.

As the final trumpet drew near, they stood, shouted, and chanted. The players sobbed on the bench as they hugged head equipment manager Stan Wilson, who has been with the Coyotes since the original Winnipeg Jets relocated here. After that, they assembled at centre ice, gave thanks with raised sticks, and had a team photo taken.

At last, the players removed their shirts off their backs, and the supporters formed a line to snap photos on the ice.

Coach Andre Tourigny stated, “I really wanted our players to play a hell of a game for our fans.” “It’s a place we really enjoyed, the Valley here. The fans were great. We enjoyed living here. We enjoyed being here. The coaches, the management, the players, everybody wanted to finish that on a positive note and give a really, really strong effort to our fans. I’m really proud, against a top team, the way we showed up.”