April 29, 2010
(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is Detroit Red Wings blogger Tyler Devereaux of The Triple Deke, fondly recalling the Phoenix Coyotes.)
By Tyler Devereaux
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to grieve the loss of not just another hockey team, but a truly great story. Tuesday night, the gritty Phoenix Coyotes were laid to rest by the Detroit Red Wings after a seven-game battle. This loss comes as a huge disappointment to our friends in the southwest, as now they will never see their team in another playoff game ever again.
However, this was a season that will be remembered for a lifetime. It was the greatest season in the history of the franchise, even surpassing those semi-memorable campaigns before the face-lift in 1996 that came with their move to the desert.
Dave Tippett is a shoo-in for the Jack Adams Award after he took over a team in complete turmoil that was expected to finish poorly and nearly led them to a division title. Ilya Bryzgalov is not only a 34-point word score in Scrabble, but he's also nominated for the Vezina. And even as his regular-season numbers dipped, Shane Doan was more than a hockey player for three postseason games -- he was a crazy, sexed-up combination of Terry Tate, a rogue rhinoceros and Biff Tannen. I'm not going to lie, there was genuine concern among the Wing faithful that Coyotes captain Shane Doan was going to check somebody's spine out of their mouth...
...wait a second here. Sorry everyone, but something feels a little strange. These eulogies typically read like comedy roasts and here I am with a team that only deserves praise after the year they just had. I mean, despite coming off a series in which we were exposed to Vernon Fiddler's face for seven full games, I would hardly call the Coyotes a Detroit nemesis. Aren't these things usually written by rival bloggers? Or Ryan Lambert? Oh no -- am I actually.... (runs to the mirror) ....oh thank goodness, I'm not Ryan Lambert.
You are expecting me, a devoted Red Wings fan and thus a card-carrying member of the Tin Foil Hat Brigade, to paint an elaborate picture of how the NHL-controlled Phoenix Coyotes were designed secretly by Gary Bettman to make a Cinderella run to the playoffs. Well, unfortunately for you, I'm not falling for that. I really hold no ill will toward this team or the state of Arizona. Maybe I'm just old fashioned but I tend to enjoy cactuses, dry heat and things that rub up against Mexico.
"Hello? Oh, hi, Every Other Wings Blogger ..... I'm at the Coyotes funeral, they asked me to do the eulogy ..... I know, I've never heard of me either ...... Hey listen, I've hit a rut in the speech, do you guys have any advice? ..... Hahaha 'wing it', clever. No really though ..... Okay wait, I'm going to write this down so I don't forget ..... uh huh ..... yep ..... Wow, really? Is this all true stuff? ..... No? Come on guys, let's be reasonab-- ...... Okay, if you say so ..... I mean you realize that anyone who reads this ..... Alright, sure. Bye."
/sighs/ I guess I'll start over. Wasn't this Phoenix team just a little .... fishy?
The NHL announced last May that they took over the Coyotes earlier in the season and were going to run the team while beginning the process of talking to potential buyers. Here's a rundown on some of the more questionable moves that have been made.
• The Coyotes won an amazing 14 games via the shootout this season, a novelty that we can thank Bettman for. It was one of his more controversial decisions to implement the shootout at the start of the 2005-06 season. In actuality though, it was just recently that Bettman went back in time and changed a whole bunch of league rules to create a "New NHL" post-lockout, which included the new-fangled shootout. (I'll pause for a second as you scoop your melted brain off the floor.)
Ridiculous? Hardly. Every midget tyrannical ruler in this planet's history has owned a time machine.
• Dave Tippett reached the conference finals in 2008 with the Stars before they were plagued by injuries and Marty Turco's everything in 2009. He was still regarded in most circles as a fine coach, but it was enough of a slip for Bettman to justify stepping in and mandating his termination, or else the Stars would be forced to relocate to Puerto Rico. After a few months of failing to get Wayne Gretzky framed for orchestrating a kindergarten death-match tournament, the Great One became exasperated and stepped down, leaving a void for Tippett to fill.
• Ilya Bryzgalov gained notoriety out in Anaheim before Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Hiller became the preferred tandem, and the Ducks then attempted to trade their Russian goaltender. Foreseeing his hostile takeover the following year, Bettman denied the 29 other teams from making a deal with Anaheim and forced then-GM Brian Burke to place Bryzgalov on waivers. The next day, Phoenix had their goalie. To sweeten up the angered Burke, Bettman promised that there would be a job opening in Toronto for him where he could make any ridiculous transactions that he desired.
• Our friend Casey Richey at Winging it in Motown had the fortune last week to do a phone interview with former Red Wing great Brendan Shanahan. Except, only two questions in, his phone went dead. His Blackberry phone, mind you. His Balisillie-made phone just happens to shut off while he's talking to somebody who works for the NHL? Yeah, whatever, that's not suspicious. Admittedly this doesn't really have to do with anything.
• After the Coyotes won Game 6 in Detroit, Gary Bettman sent an email to Jim Balisillie titled "We Made it Seven" that only contained a Photoshop of Bettman with Balisillie's mother.
- During a brief phone conversation with Colin Cam...
"STOP THE EULOGY, I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY, BRO" /Shane Doan rises from casket/
Oh dear God, uh, ladies and gentleman please don't be alarmed. I'm sure this is just some sort of post-death spasm. Please, Pierre McGuire -- put the fire extinguisher down ...
"SILENCE, ALL OF YOU. /downs can of Red Bull; rips it in half/ WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY NOT TO PAY LAST RESPECTS, BUT RATHER TO RAISE HELL AND BURN THIS [expletive] TO THE GROUND"
I'm completely speechless. Shane .... why aren't you, you know, deceased? Everyone else is. You're sort of ruining the whole "funeral" motif we've got going.
"WHAT IS THIS DEPRESSING MUSIC? I SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED MASTER OF PUPPETS TO BE PLAYED BACKWARDS ON A FLAMING STEREO AT MY FUNERAL. JOVO, WAKE UP BRO, WE'VE GOTTA FIND YANDLE AND MAKE HIM LICK BIRD [expletive] AGAIN. WASN'T THAT RAD? /throttles Ed Jovanovski's lifeless corpse/
He's dead, man. They're all dead. How are you alive right now?
/wailing on an air guitar/ "I KNOW, THIS IS WILD, RIGHT? THIS IS GONNA BE JUST LIKE 1987 WHEN WE GAVE PRINCIPAL WEINSTEIN A SWIRLY AND DROVE HIS CAR THROUGH AN F-5 TORNADO AND LIVED. MAN, WAS THAT EVER EXTREME. HEY BRO, DO YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE A PANE OF GLASS THAT I CAN SMASH OVER MY HEAD?"
I know this is probably really confusing for you Shane, but dude, you are actually dead. I mean you have to be -- I watched the Red Wings absolutely destroy you guys Tuesday night. Like literally, you don't even exist anymore. It was insane that they even let you hang around for seven games.
"WHAT ARE YOU SAYING BRO? THAT I'M DEAD NOW? NEXT YOU'RE GONNA TELL ME THAT LAURI KORPIKOSKI IS ACTUALLY A DUDE."
What? What are you talking about -- he's totally a guy.
"PLEASE -- PLEASE TELL ME YOU ARE KIDDING."
He's a dude with a girl's name, man, it happens. Why? You didn't .... oh my lord, you did.
"I THINK I'M GONNA GO LIE BACK DOWN NOW."
That's probably not a bad idea. In fact, there's a party going on in San Jose in like 20 minutes so I'm just going to leave.
...And so the story of the 2010 Phoenix Coyotes comes to a close, just as confusing and nonsensical as it began. Thank you all for coming.