Thoughts from my first Phoenix Coyotes pre-season game:
(1) Matt Greene, now of the LA Kings, played for the U of North Dakota when I was in college. I always thought he was a bit of a liability for them (based on his big, lumbering nature), but UND was one of a few teams that had an NHL (as opposed to olympic) sized rink in college, so he made it work.
Plus, if he hit you, it hurt really, really bad. He was unaware of the battle going on between him and my roommate Charlie Kronsch. The battle was that Matt frequently gave Charlie stitches in the chin (wearing the full cage in college makes for a lot of chin stiches), and Charlie wanted to return the favour. But every year for poor Chuck, here’s your new zips, courtesy Greener. Final score, Greene, 17, Kronschnabel, 0. Oh, and by the way Char, Greene is in the NHL now. 18-0.
(2) When the puck first drops to start the game (especially during camp, pre-season, and weekend games), its understood that the pace is freaking intense – like, max effort, until that first whistle. “Set the tone” stuff, ya know? It has to settle down from there. It was nearly ten minutes before the Yotes game saw a whistle, and I got a big kick out of guys trying to keep the pace up on their second, and third shifts.
(3) Was Balsillie there? No, seriously, was he? I couldn’t help but think he had to be watching from somewhere, if he’s such a big fan of hockey that he wants to own the team…
(4) They asked the fans “Shane Doan Trivia”, which I found hilarious, because…. what are their options? Coyote history trivia would just end in “Doan” anyway, so you might as well narrow it down a bit, right? Nice move.
(5) I feel really bad for writing an article about the Coyotes sucking after having been to a game. The article I wrote, sadly, was accurate – just seeing the fans that do support them and hearing the interviews with the guys made me feel a bit guilty. Sorry, guys.
(6) The highlight of the night was a Shane Doan jumbotron commercial for a bank, where a fan is taking money from the ATM, and Shane misunderstands the meaning of “free checking” and hits the guy from behind. He has a line at the end of the commercial, and that’s when it hit me. Shane freaking Doan is Keanu Reeves. Right? I mean, isn’t he? The hair… the tone… it was all just so obvious this whole time. I cannot believe I missed this prior to now.
(7) The rink setting in Phoenix is amazing. One of the best I’ve ever seen. Not only is the rink nice, new and ideal for watching a game, but everywhere outside it is just so great. Fountains with half-Bellagio water shows, a Jimmy Buffet margaritaville, restaurants and bars, Irish pubs and shopping, it’s just too perfect. If they do manage to survive, I’d go just to linger outside under the misters and drink a few pints in front of the outdoor TV’s. Heaven forbid this team starts winning, they might just get popular.
(8) They charge more for Pittsburgh and Detroit games. Just thought I’d pass that along.
(9) They still charge $8.25 for a beer. Isn’t that unbelievable that they can do that? A draught beer costs a restaurant something like 37 cents. Movie theater owners would hear that mark-up and call it preposterous. I’d have boycotted if it wasn’t a Coyote’s pre-season game, which are the most drink-inducing words you can string together on this side of “bachelor party”.
(10) I’m still a big fan of the sleek RBK jerseys (though not the Coyotes colors/logo). Nice evolution to the look of a hockey player.
(11) Just how dumb is wearing no visor nowadays? I don’t even feel the need to make my case beyond that sentence.
(12) There are few things as satisfying as skating behind a d-man into a nicely chipped puck with a ton of speed already going.
(13) The t-shirt shoot: I think they shot 900 t-shirts to the 450 fans, (both ballpark figures).
(14) Bryzgalov just looks like an NHL goalie. They have that structure and size you don’t see from the amateurs. He also has the tendency to get beat five-hole like NHL goalies, a phenomenon that never ceases to boggle me. For some reason, I think 40% of goals in the NHL are scored five-hole. It’s absurd.
And that was game one, pre-season. I’m looking forward to going to more games and having my “to write about” list grow. I think I need to write about the momentum of skating, and what a bitch having to actually stop is. Not that I chose to stop all that much, but still, I hated it when I had to.