We've reached the final day of our countdown. Brandon presented his Chicago Blackhawks for your approval. Pat took a whack at telling Stars fans to root for the Avalanche (brave, brave Pat.) Art tried to paint an attractive picture for Stars fans where the Canucks are concerned (and met some pretty stout opposition). It was fun. It made for some funny discussion, but it seems it wasn't what everyone was looking for.
So maybe we saved the best for last. No, not me. I'm talking about the Phoenix Coyotes.
Full disclosure: I was born in Phoenix, AZ, so maybe I am a little biased. I only lived there until I was 9 years old and there was no hockey team back then, but the place still has quite a bit of pull over me. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Stars and Mavericks guy through and through and have been for well over a decade now, but I have enjoyed watching Phoenix blossom into a pretty nice sports town over the years.
My personal ties aside, the reason I (and many of you) will be rooting for the Phoenix Coyotes is plainly and simply Dave Tippett.
And if that wasn't reason enough, they're playing the Detroit Red Wings! We don't like the Red Wings, and rooting for a Tippett coached team against them feels like an old friend come home for a visit, doesn't it? (Even if that friend usually ends up stabbing you in the neck and stealing your wallet.)
Follow the jump for more on our adopted horse in the playoff race...
I follow pretty strict guidelines for rooting when watching the Stars-less playoffs. I generally will not root for a division rival. If the Stars aren't in the race, it is my ultimate wish that an Eastern Conference team win the cup. (This still applies this year.) I root against potential first timers: We have our name on the Cup, San Jose doesn't. I'd like to keep it that way. I have no desire to see budding franchises poised for long term success go on deep, confidence boosting playoff runs. (See Los Angeles Kings)
Phoenix seems to fall through all of these cracks. You can call them a division rival if you like. I personally wouldn't go that far. Ilya Bryzgalov has single handedly made matchups with Phoenix these last two years a little too competitive for our liking, but from a Stars point of view, I don't think there's any question we view games with the Ducks and Sharks as a "bigger deal" than those with the Coyotes. Maybe that starts changing next year. We'll see. Phoenix has largely been an innocuous presence in the division. There's no animosity there. Not from our side.
Mostly, they're just the cute little underdog Coyotes with Dave Tippett at the helm. There's nothing to particularly dislike about them, and they feel like kindred Sun-Belt spirits. Playoff success will breed fandom there in Arizona the same way it did here, and those players deserve a little more attention than they get there in mid-November.
And how great would it be to see the Coyotes crash the ratings party that is (might be) the Stanley Cup Finals? There's another reason to root for the Coyotes: Sticking it to the East Coast/Canadian hockey snobs. They don't want to see Phoenix in the Finals. If pissing off people who say "Hockey doesn't belong in Texas/Arizona" tickles your fancy, then this team is for you.
- If you haven't been keeping up with the "Throw The Snake" saga, Puck Daddy will catch you up. This bit of comedy is another good reason to pull for the Yotes.
- Our buddy, Travis Hair of Five For Holwing, makes his own plea to the Stars fan. (Not sure what James Neal incident he's talking about though. I remember Neal hitting someone's shoulder with his shoulder one time, but that's no big deal, right? )
- Another good reason: You can practically hear the facepalm from Avs fans in Denver every time Wolski scores for the Coyotes.
- They haven't been to the playoffs in EIGHT years.
- They've NEVER won a playoff series as the Phoenix Coyotes.
I mean, come on! You have to root for them simply out of sympathy.
But mostly, Dave Tippett.
You may wish Dave Tippett was still here. I would tell you that Phoenix has a better group of defenders (and goaltender) for his system. He probably could not have achieved this here in Dallas this season. Phoenix was the right job at the right time for him. Let's stop all the "That could be us" nonsense and just be happy for the man.
For all the good times, Tipp. For the mustache, for the 2008 WCF run, for Marty and Brenden....for all those things, beat those damned Red Wings. Beat em good.
And for the love of the hockey gods....Throw the snake!