Phoenix Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera is a die-hard professional wrestling fan, the kind that has his own WWE championship replica belt (and, we assume, finishing move). Back in 2011, he sent defenseman Keith Yandle, also a wrestling fanatic, a photo of his belt and the two had a brainstorm:
Instead of an old hat or a shovel or some other tired item, why not reward the Coyotes’ player of the game with the world heavyweight championship?
Players ranging from Ray Whitney to Shane Doan were given a John Cena “spinner” belt last season in honor of their efforts on the ice, with the previous holder of the belt handing it over (a.k.a. "doing the job") to the next recipient.
But this season, the Coyotes decided it wasn’t enough to wear someone else’s championship strap – it was time to customize their own.
Mikkel Boedker was the first recipient of the new Coyotes belt for his 2-goal performance against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
Look at that sweetness: The Coyotes' various logos on the front of the belt, with “Player of the Game” emblazoned on the bottom. More alternate logos on the sides, along with what appear to be nameplates for those who are awarded it.
(Oh, and how optimistic: No mention of the name “Phoenix” on the belt. As you know, when their sale is closed, the team will become the Arizona Coyotes.)
As per tradition, Boedker held the belt during all of his postgame media appearances, including an interview with NHL Network during which he explained the origins of the championship trinket:
“We got this yesterday actually,” he said. “It’s given out to the best player on a given night when we win.”
This is all very exciting. And by that we mean the idea that Paul Bissonnette, the Honky Tonk Man, The Mountie and David Arquette could have all worn championship belts in their lifetimes ...
Now, the Coyotes obviously aren’t the first team to pass around a title strap, as a championship belt was used by the Chicago Blackhawks during their Stanley Cup run. Please recall Dustin Byfuglien passing the hardware to Patrick Kane at the Blackhawks’ parade:
Like the Coyotes, the Blackhawks eventually upgraded their belt into something more customized. But seriously: Comparing their belt to the Coyotes’ is like comparing the WWE Diva’s title to a classic Ric Flair strap.
To paraphrase the great Terry Bollea: Whatcha gonna do when the Phoenix Coyotes run wild on you?!
(Besides hope that it’s not Raffi Torres running wild, that is. Ask Hossa.)