Here’s what you saw at Jobing.com Arena Wednesday night:
The Detroit Red Wings beating the Phoenix Coyotes nine ways from Sunday. Two years of uncertainty, frustration and pressure finally catching up with a team at the worst possible moment.
At center ice, the Coyotes raise their sticks toward a chanting crowd. Hockey players fight back tears before they reach the sanctity of the dressing room. A hundred questions, none of them about hockey and all of them about a future they had no say in or inside information on.
Here’s what you didn’t see:
Coyotes captain Shane Doan, still in his hockey pants and skates, slumped in his seat, staring straight ahead and trying to make sense of an insane situation. And then his eye moved to just inside the dressing room door and caught a small boy glued to the wall, dressed in a Shane Doan shirt that covered his knees.
“Come here buddy,” Doan said softly.
Nine-year-old Joshua Doan took off in a sprint – trying to reach his dad before the tears took over. The last thing you see is Joshua disappearing in dad’s lap and arms. Walking away because it’s no longer your place to be there, a last glance reveals the captain smiling broadly for the first time in hours.
Josh Doan can keep his chin up. Ilya Bryzgalov doesn’t have to worry about finding another team to avoid a frozen tundra. Unlike all of the media in Canada – and much of it locally – I am still convinced the Coyotes aren’t going anywhere.
The NHL wants the team in Glendale. NBC and Versus, now with $10 billion of skin in the game, want Arizona over Manitoba. The city wants them to stay. There is a willing owner here. And as effective as the Goldwater Institute has been in sabotaging Plan A, there are other avenues to get this done and rather quickly.
Selling bonds inflated by fear isn’t the only way to raise $100 million. The cards are now on the table for a palatable deal in the eyes of the Goldwater Institute, and Glendale is committed to finding a way. Time is no longer on their side, but forget about the talk of days from doomsday – there is still 6-8 weeks to make it happen. Winnipeg may get a team, it just won’t be this one.
• Michael Redd in a Suns uniform? Hate the knees. Love the idea.
You can certainly understand Redd’s interest in coming to the NBA’s version of Loures (just entering the Suns training room must feel like Ellis Island... “Give us your downtrodden, your hopelessly injured, those yearning to run free”).
The parallels to Grant Hill are surely there. Redd got rich ($91 million) while basically not playing in Milwaukee (51 of the last 231 games) and you are only as good as your surgeon after two knee reconstructions. But if the Suns training staff – led by Aaron Nelson and Oscar Goldman – can rebuild him, Phoenix would have another discount star to plug into a gaping hole. Plus, he’s only 32 – Hill and Steve Nash will probably make him carry bags on road trips.
• Got to admire the American entrepreneurial spirit. Ex-ASU pitcher Mike Leake is busted for allegedly shoplifting shirts on Monday and before he can get back to the mound in Cincinnati, someone has T-shirts for sale, with his likeness, that say “Mike Leake Stole This T-Shirt for Me.”
It really gives you hope for the country moving forward with minds like that still among us.
• The Los Angeles Dodgers are being run by Major League Baseball? Walter O’Malley must be rolling in his grave at Holy Cross Cemetery. As losing as baseball’s “War of The Roses” continues, the Dodgers are no threat to win. Of course that’s been true since Kurt Gibson stopped liming around the bases 20-some years ago.
A little advice for Dodgers owner Frank McCourt: Next time you get a divorce, talk it out. No matter how it all ends, the only real winner here is Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers.
• Can you imagine Nash or Amare’ Stoudemire stepping up after a playoff game and saying “I am the goat” after a critical gaffe? Bryzgalov was awful against the Red Wings, but he met his actions head-on afterward. And it was noticed.
• Did you get excited when the Grizzlies and Hornets won their first playoff games last weekend? Come on.
The NBA trashed the old three-game, miniseries decades ago to make sure young upstart teams couldn’t mess with their TV ratings. Seven games in the first round is specially designed for the Lakers and Spurs of the world to get healthy, get their minds right and get moving to the second round.
There is no place for Butler or VCU in the NBA. This is big-boy stuff.
• Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org