FanPost

The Rebirth of Phoenix (Cool Like Dat)

Christian Petersen

Digable Planets - Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat) (via emimusic)

Ah, the Phoenix Arizona Coyotes. Those loveable losers who never seem to get that relocation thing off their backs. Who would ever put a hockey team in Phoenix? And they took the Jets from Canada! And now, no one goes to their games. Time to pack up and head north. It's just not cool to have hockey in the desert.

Except, at one time, it was cool.

And it wasn't a joke.

The modern NHL has gone through an incredible amount of growing pains since the Great Winter of No Hockey in 2005. ESPN was lost to Outdoor Life Network. A franchise in Atlanta failed. And Reebok's great Edge experiment landed like a lead balloon. But in spite of itself, it's grown. The B's-Hawks Final was a ratings bonanza. Once oddball places for hockey like Nashville and Tampa Bay are now part of the fabric of the league. And hockey has returned once more to that glorious Oasis of the Plains, Winnipeg.

But all that is nothing compared to how the NHL was in the mid-90's. It was the coolest sport (and they let you know it), and in the playgrounds across America, the robots and glow pucks of Fox were making the league the talk of 10 year olds. It was fast, futuristic, and sexy. New arenas! Awesome third jerseys! A Disney team named after a movie! And new, exciting markets.

With a 2nd team already in Southern California, a team in the Bay Area, Dallas, Miami, Tampa...a team in Phoenix made tons of sense. It was a large media market, with only an NBA and NFL team at the time. It was in the desert, which was cool. And despite the love of the Jets and their colors, Winnipeg seemed like a creepy Siberian wasteland mining town* compared to modern, big, fresh Phoenix. Then came the cool name, and the cool, inexplicably mid-90's jerseys.

The Coyotes rode a wave of coolness through their Frankenstiened NBA arena early existence. Then they moved to Glendale. Then the traditionalists got a hold of them and changed their look. Then the team wasn't very good. Then the fans stopped watching a bad product. Then the Canadian choruses got louder. And then...

The Coyotes success now depends on them being good long term, but in the short term, they need to get cool again. Seriously. In the 2nd-gen Edge era, there is a tendency to make everything as Original Six as humanly possible, because, well, that's just what hockey teams need to look like! The Yotes fell into this trap during their 2003 redesign. Yes, it's a decent, respectable hockey uniform. But it looks like the 25 or so other decent, respectable hockey uniforms in the league. They have to stand out more, and become something more of a national brand.

The one thing they have going for them is that '90s retro is kinda back. Snapback hats and Starter jackets now have second life. It'd be a perfect time for them to trot the tribal coyote back out for a new jersey. Or, get a remix going with the current logo. Harkening back to their glory years is something other teams do, but with the Coyotes, it's a different form of throwing back. Less Old Time Hockey than NHL 97. PlayStations and Start buttons. Jamiroquai and Sneaker Pimps.

Play it up, make the look match the environment/culture and to hell with anyone who dares question it. The Coyotes can't be tied down to looking like a "proper" hockey team when they need to start selling tickets and getting some attention. The NHL cannot be all 1940s uniform designs. Stand out, let the attitude of the franchise stand out, and it will work.

And in a few years, some young rapper will become famous while wearing an Arizona Coyotes jersey, and we'll wonder why we ever doubted that hockey in the desert could be cool like dat.

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