Phoenix fans give fond farewell to NHL’s Coyotes before move to Salt Lake City

CENTRAL ARIZONA — The National Hockey League has approved the sale of the Arizona Coyotes to the majority owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, Ryan Smith, for 1.2 billion dollars. Last night was the last game in which they beat the Edmonton Oilers 5 – 2.

The team originally moved to Phoenix from Winnipeg, Canada, then moved within Arizona just outside of Phoenix. Hockey legend Wayne Gretsky held an ownership majority in the Coyotes at one point, however shortly thereafter the organization was forced to declare bankruptsy.

The live Fox Sports-affiliated television broadcast on Wednesday night didn’t end after the game ended. In fact, when the Post-Game Show went off the air an hour and a half after the final buzzer, there were still players lingering on the ice, not wanting the Coyotes, or as the Head Coach  Andre Tourigny called them, the “Yotes” tenure to be done. 

He said that in a press interview about an hour after the game ended, not the three minutes after the game per usual. He’d spend that hour not necessarily celebrating the “W” but more so lamenting the forthcoming transition, whereby he and his team will move and start the next season in October playing in the Delta Center. 

He told the press that he and his wife will miss the Phoenix Valley tremendously, and that, if there’s a paradise, they know where it is, it’s in the Arizona Valley.”

Just as beloved as the Coyotes is Arizona’s professional women’s hockey team, the Kachinas. Utah soccer fans know all too well that the women’s team and corresponding men’s team don’t always stay together, as was and is the case of Real Salt Lake and the Utah Royals. The Kachinas will stay in Arizona.

Also staying in Arizona are the thousands of youth hockey players who began in the wake of, and inspired by the  Coyotes.

The professional photographer didn’t simply take the requisite game picture of the team and coaches smiling last night. He took it of yes, the athletes, and yes the coaches, but this special last photo also included every employee of the franchise, the front office, and the back office alike.

Fans in the stands had brought and proudly waved homemade signs with phraseology running the gamut of ‘thanks for the memories’ and ‘we’ll miss you.’

Players were armed in advance with countless Sharpies with which they signed the jerseys off of their backs, their sticks, their pucks, their baseball caps their helmets, you name it, they signed it then proceeded to toss it all into the sold out stands. Thankfully catching said memorabilia were adoring fans, men women, boys, girls, even Oilers gear clad spectators, most all of them with streaming tears running down their cheeks. Indeed it was a bittersweet moment.

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