Having a ton of fans at the playoff game was amazing. Seeing everyone dressed in white, listening to the roar when we scored, and listening to us chide the goalie with Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooward Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooward! It was great.
While it was great, there was also the drawback that a bunch of them were there for entertainment. I guess that sounds backwards because I guess sports fandom boils down to entertainment, but a lot of those new fans were there to be entertained by the home team by us winning. In the last two games, that didn’t happen and those fans began to file out in the third period. I have a hard time remembering that most people don’t live and die with the boys quite like my friends and I do. But it upset me.
We were being thumped by the Wings quite convincingly in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the bandwagoners had already left. The clock was winding down and we would not see the boys until Fall. After 4 home preseason games, 41 regular season home games, and four playoff home games, it was ending. While the final game was disappointing, there were countless times that the boys shocked and awed us with their heart, determination, grit, and belief in each other.
I saw us handily beat the Blackhawks, a team who had owned us all last year.
I saw us lose Z and Jovo for about a month, but Schlemko and Sami step up and Yandle keep our D afloat. Yeah, I said Yandle.
I saw James Wisniewski put a cheap hit on our captain and who comes rushing to his aid? The whole team. Yandle put himself in harms way to get at Wiz, Jovo/Vandy/Oakie got physical and gritty all nite.
I saw us sweep the Wild in the season series, and we always struggled against them. We put the hurt on the Bruins and Senators in our barn.
I saw us come storming back from being three goals down in the third period to the Islanders to push it to OT. In fact, we came storming back in the third period of a TON of games.
I saw my first hattrick live with Uppy. I also saw Uppy leap into the arms of Vandypants in the most epic celebration ever.
I saw Prucha get hurt and I saw his friend/countrymen/teammate stand up and fight for him against a more experienced fighter.
I saw us score two goals in the last two minutes IN DETROIT to force OT and then win.
I saw us lose a man at the trade deadline and integrate Schneider, Dmo, Stemps, Wolski, and Nokie (!) into our equation seemlessly.
I saw us win 10 games straight at home and have a streak of 9 straight wins in March when earning the points is tough.
I saw a Dman that many thought was in the twilight of his career win 5 straight shootouts with his simple but effective approach.
I saw Jovo play with new fire, like he was a kid again. JOVO PEOPLE!
I saw these boys play in front of crowds of 4000. I saw them play in front of crowds of over 17K. They played with the same amount of heart in both.
I saw Korps go from a consistent healthy scratch to a player that found his role on PK and shootouts.
I saw a goalie earn the trust and respect of his teammates and fans by continually standing on his head.
At the end of Game 7, I didn’t cheer the effort of the game. When I, along with the other thousands of fans chanted Let’s Go Coyotes, it was for all of these moments. It was for all the triumphs of this year (and there were a lot) and it was for all the failures that we learned from. It was for our amazing scoring Dmen. It was for our crazy goalies. It was for our forechecking forwards. It was for my Czechs. It was for Shane Doan.
And when the boys waited on the ice for everyone go through the handshake line and they raised their sticks to us, my connection to them strengthened. Others may have felt that connection for the first time. We need the boys, and the boys need us. As hokey as it sounds, we are a Pack. It’s not a marketing campaign. I felt it and so did every other fan at the end of that night.
Game On Arizona.