Wednesday night's loss by the Phoenix Coyotes wasn't really about hockey, was it?
As we all sat there and watched the Detroit Red Wings dismantle the Coyotes in the third period of Game 4 in their NHL playoff series, we weren't really thinking about how they were doing it without Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg, or how the sweep of the No. 6 seed was great for them in terms of the rest they'll get looking forward to the next round.
Sure, the broadcasters on VERSUS were talking about that stuff, but we all knew what was really going on. We were, potentially, maybe, perhaps, watching the last minutes of hockey in the Arizona desert. We were perhaps watching the end of the Phoenix Coyotes.
I'm from Philadelphia. I've never been further West than Chicago (I know, I need to get out more). By virtue of that, I have no connection to the state of Arizona, to Glendale or Phoenix or to the Coyotes. I don't care if the City of Glendale goes off the deep end because they built a giant arena that's without a tenant. It doesn't impact my life in the slightest bit.
If we're being really selfish about it, as a fan of a rich Northern team with deep pockets, I should be happy that a team could leave Phoenix. One less poor team taking those revenue sharing dollars, you know?
But at the end of the day, none of that really matters. This isn't about money or "what's right" or the deserved return of hockey to the Great White North, you know... Where It Belongs.
It's about fans losing something they've devoted a gigantic portion of their lives and a deep part of their emotions to. As fans, we've all been there to an extent. We've all experienced tough playoff losses and disappointing seasons. As silly as it may seem in the grand scheme of life, it does truly hurt in a real way.
Typically, though, we have that chance at another season. Oh well, always next year. For Coyotes fans that shuffled out of Jobing.com Arena on Wednesday, there's not that same hope. The team might leave, and if that happens, it will hurt those who have rooted for the Coyotes for a year or five or 16. There might not be a next year.
And that's just the thing about this whole Coyotes relocation debacle. There might not be a huge fan base in Phoenix, but there are fans there -- people that love hockey just as much as me in Philly, you where ever you are, that guy in Toronto, the girl in Pittsburgh.
There are people there that want nothing more than to watch the team they love next season, and in that sense, Phoenix is just the same as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, Minneapolis, Montreal, Brooklyn or yes, Winnipeg.
If the Coyotes do in fact relocate, we don't have to feel bad for the City of Glendale or for the owners who screwed everything up with a bad investment, nor do we have to feel bad for the folks that only showed up to games because they got free tickets that one time and they had nothing better to do (the bowling alley was closed that week).
But for the people who love hockey in the Desert, whether they were fans in 1996 or they just fell in love with the sport last year, we hold a bit of a kinship with them. They're people who love the game and their team just as much as anybody else, and there's a very real chance that could be taken from them. It could happen to any of us.
It's not a time to celebrate the potential return of hockey to it's rightful home. In a very real sense, we're all Coyotes, aren't we?