COMMENTARY | Phoenix Coyotes fans have endured considerable criticism in recent years during their team's grueling ownership saga.
While they may be fewer in number than fans in other cities, they have a special bond with their team that is the product of a struggle that fans elsewhere simply have not experienced. They have had to swallow a lot over the years since the team arrived in the Valley of the Sun.
In recognition of these loyal fans for their perseverance through such a difficult period of uncertainty, here are 10 reasons why Phoenix Coyotes fans are the best in the NHL:
10. They willingly sit for hours indoors, where the floor is made of ice, while some of the most beautiful winter weather in the NHL happens just outside.
Arizona is really, really nice in the winter, yet these fans forgo the outdoors to watch hockey.
9. As they traverse the Glendale desert traveling to games, they risk being attacked by the very animal their team is named after.
Coyotes live in the desert. The Coyotes play in the desert. These fans roll the dice with this one every time they go to a game.
8. Often outnumbered three to one, they remain stalwart in the face of torment from opposing fans at Jobbing.com Arena.
A visit to any home contest against the Red Wings is evidence of the fortitude of Coyotes fans.
7. They howl like wild dogs several times per game, regardless of how silly they may look doing it.
They howl, like wild dogs.
6. They pretended to like Claude Lemieux.
He's about as easy to like as Lord Walder Frey from Game of Thrones.
5. They have resisted the urge to initiate a new tradition of throwing dead coyotes on the ice at home games, where each leg of the animal represents one of the four years of misery they just experienced under NHL control.
Coyotes fans recognize the PR nightmare with this one. Besides, smuggling a coyote in your shorts is a lot tougher than an octopus.
4. Many of them happily watched games for years from obstructed-view seating that obscured one-third of the playing surface in America West Arena.
This encouraged many to leave early and come late during period breaks, sneaking away to a local dive bar for 75-cent beers. When you can't actually see the game, you just don't care when you get back. Yet many of these fans kept coming back..
3. They overcame their desert-dweller handicap and somehow, miraculously, came to appreciate and understand the game of hockey.
There were no frozen ponds in the backyard. They wore shorts in the winter. Still, they learned the sport of hockey. Yeah, I know hockey community, it's flabbergasting.
2. Despite all that the Goldwater Institute did in its attempt to sabotage the team's sale, Coyotes fans showed amazing restraint in that not a single one of them punched a culpable Goldwater employee right in the face.
As much as they may have deserved some retaliatory response, there was no violence. Good for you, Coyotes fans!
1. They still exist, even after that ownership circus.
The fact that the Phoenix Coyotes still have fans is a testament to their resolve. When your team may be gone at anytime, it is hard to continue providing support. These fans did -- for years. Sure, the fan base shrunk a little, but those that remain represent what is special about true hockey fans everywhere.
Scott DeWaelsche grew up in Phoenix, Arizona as a follower of all Phoenix-area sports teams. He has previously published content on Yahoo Sports.
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- Phoenix Coyotes