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04-24-2012, 08:24 AM
  #9
PhoPhan
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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We've endured a lot as fans of this team. Other teams have had big name acquisitions flop, top draft picks bust, star players hold out, but the Coyotes seem to do it with greater frequency and sheer splendor. Other teams have had ownership struggles, but none has had one so long and depressing. Other teams and their fans have been criticized for being in new, non-traditional markets, but the Coyotes always seem to garner the most derision. Other teams have had runs of impotence, but no other team in this league has gone so long without winning a playoff series.

But that's all the past, and this is isn't about the past anymore. With Doan's hat trick, the division win, and now a series victory, a crucial part of this team's identity has been jettisoned. Ours is no longer a Loser.

It's validation for a lot of these players.

Guys like Brule, Chipchura and Klesla came into this league with very high expectations, and they're only just now seeing what the playoffs are. They're making it count.

Mike Smith has, for the bulk of his career, either been a backup goalie or told he would always be one. He's only just now feeling the pride of not only a starter but one of the best in the league.

Ray Whitney was told by most of the league that he was too old to be worth a two-year deal. He signed with the Coyotes by default, and he's been proving everyone else wrong since.

Then there's the guys who have been here for a while. Yandle, Hanzal, Vrbata, Pyatt, etc. The last two playoff runs must have left differently bad tastes in their mouths. Two first round exits in a row is a coincidence. Three is a trend.

Most of all, it's validation for Shane Doan, who has poured way more into this franchise than he's gotten back. His loyalty, dedication and integrity has paid off.

It's validation for us as fans, too. We've endured as much or more than any other fan base in the league, and we have less to show for it than anyone else. But now, finally, we can shed that coat of futility and embrace this team for what it now is: a Winner.

No matter what happens the rest of the way, this is a good feeling, and nothing--not a second round sweep, not hectoring from other fans, maybe not even r*l*c*t**n--can sully that.

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