When the Jets left Winnipeg to move to the Arizona desert a lot of people in the River City cursed the Franchise. Despite Ed Olczyk’s passionate speech about how the team was going to win the Cup and then bring it back to Winnipeg success was hard to find in Phoenix.
To put it simply the curses stuck. This team slowly became a joke and it looked like they were doomed. They went through the Gretzky years where they were mired by bad management and bad play on the ice. Then there was the whole bankruptcy mess and subsequent ownership sagas. Hell its still going on and theres a good chance that the team will be moving to Quebec City very shortly.
But on the ice things are different. For the first time since leaving Winnipeg the Coyotes have won a playoff series. This team that has been handcuffed by the NHL for the past 2 years has finally found success.
What’s different? Why this year? They lost their top goalie to free agency and are not allowed to sign any players to big contracts. They play infront of a half empty arena so they are not being buoyed by fan support. So why is this team suddenly doing good? What happened to make this group of rejects into a team that now has a legit shot at winning the Stanley cup?
The Curse has been lifted.
When the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg last year Jets the curse that had plagued the Coyotes for the past 15 years had ended. As long as Winnipeg was without a team then Phoenix was doomed but now the Jets are back and the Coyotes are free again.
The signs have been everywhere this season. Sure overall attendance was down but they actually added season ticket holders and stopped giving away tickets for free. The team won its first division title in franchise history. Shane Doan scored his first carrer hat trick. Raffie Torres has been injuring guys at a MMA hall of fame pace. Even Mayor Scruggs started to display a new curse free attitude. She actually stood up to the NHL and tried to play hard ball with the NHL’s diminutive commissioner.
Who knows maybe now they will find an owner who is willing to buy the team and keep it there? Maybe now the fans will show up? Maybe this team can stay and thrive in the desert? Since the curse is now lifted the sky is the limit for this team. A new age is now beginning. Sure it may continue in Quebec or Seattle but the good news is the voodoo that has haunted this team is now gone. The black cloud that has hung over them for the past 15 years has now lifted.
Last May somewhere in a basement in Transcona a middle aged man extinguished a candle that had been burning for the last decade and a half. A women in the north end no longer offered a sacrifice of timbits to the hockey gods. The Barry Shenkarow voodoo doll was put away never to see the light of day again. The afternoon drunks at the Pemby toasted the demise of the coyotes for the last time. A dark magic left the world and with that the Coyotes were free.
The people of Glendale owe a lot to Mark Chipman and True North. Without them purchasing the Thrashers they Coyotes probably don’t even make the playoffs and are most likely on their way out of Arizona by now. The Franchise may not be saved but at least they will have more time to enjoy their team. This extra success may given the perspective owners a little extra time and incentive to buy the team and keep them in Glendale.
Jets fans no longer have to worry about the Coyotes, we have our own team so the Desert Dogs may be free to run as long as the Government subsidies keep flowing. I just hope there isn’t an Atlanta Curse that will doom this team but for that to happen there would have actually had to be Thrashers’ fans to begin with.
The idea for this post was given to me by my good friend Kevin Warburton.