NHL Tour 2011-2012
NHL 2012

When we thought of this amazing tour last year, part of us hesitated thinking maybe we should save money for a year and then do it. Being the hockey nuts we are, we decided against it and went last year.  Could we imagine what it would be like right now? All plans set? All tickets bought? All travel arrangements made? Only to have the season locked out?? AHHH! We are devastated at the loss of any hockey and are sooo thankful we had the experience of a successful 2011-2012 NHL tour.  

Finally got a chance to put all our game pics together! Ahh, sweet memories!!

Finally got a chance to put all our game pics together! Ahh, sweet memories!!

Overtime….

When the NHL calls, we answer the phone! ha.  Unfortunately we didn’t connect with the Canucks organization while we were there (it was one of our earlier stops…long story). But anyway, they loved our adventure and wrote an article! Check it out.

http://canucks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=617325

We’ve done them all!

We’ve done them all!

A quick tour recap video!

Thanks family! For our warm welcome home and watching Snowball. Special thanks also to Jerry and Kerry for watching SB for a few weeks!

We have a request

Whether you have been reading the blog consistently or just visiting for the first time, can you please message us? (Find the Submit Comments button on the right side of the blog on your screen) We can’t track the number of hits on this website and what started as a catalog for ourselves and our family of this epic journey has evolved into an explosion of followers both in and out of the hockey world. Don’t worry, we aren’t asking for a novel, we’d just like a short message of “I’m reading”… or “my family of 3 reads your blog” which would be very helpful as we are trying to assess numbers.  THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!

Third Period Highlights

Well therein finishes the third period and our NHL Tour. The last ten games of which were: Winnipeg, Minnesota, Nashville, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Phoenix.

Favorite Rinks: Architecture: Nashville, Phoenix, Minnesota, Dallas, Florida

   Décor: Minnesota, Nashville, Florida, Tampa, Phoenix

Most Fan Involvement:  Nashville, Winnipeg, Florida, Carolina

Best Theme: Nashville, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg

Best Home Game to watch:  Philadelphia vs. Carolina, Pittsburgh vs. FloridaMontreal vs. Pittsburgh

Easiest Cities to Navigate/get to the game: Minnesota, Dallas

Friendliest cities: Nashville, Winnipeg, Columbus and Carolina

Best staff we have encountered: Carolina, Dallas, and Phoenix

Overall Best Experience (city, rink, and game):  Carolina, Dallas, Florida, Nashville, and Phoenix

Best Jumbotron: Dallas, Tampa, and Pittsburgh

Best Intermission Show: Carolina (musical chairs) we also saw this at other stops after Carolina

Phoenix Recap

The Tuesday after the All-Star break, the NHL schedule resumed and so did our NHL Tour.  On Monday we flew to Phoenix for our final stop… game #30.   Excitement characterized our journey, as it has for every rink we were getting ready to see. However, a bittersweet moment was on the horizon; an end to our NHL Tour. Completion of a 4 month- 40 city- 30 game trip that we set out to accomplish.

We were met with open arms in Phoenix by everyone on the Coyotes staff. Even before we arrived, when we alerted them of our trip back in September, Bucky was beyond excited and overly kind. We received tickets behind the net, first row on the glass for our game. Thanks Bucky!!!

Our events started on game day with a trip to Scottsdale in the morning to watch the team practice briefly before their game. After hockey shopping and talking with our new friend Brian at the awesome pro shop at the Ice Den, we ventured to Glendale to Jobing.com Arena.

Jobing.com Arena sits next to the Arizona Cardinals/University of Phoenix stadium.  West Gate Mall is outside of the rink, which is great for making a game an all day event. Restaurants, shops, a movie theater, and a fountain with water show encompass this area that becomes a pedestrian mall pre-game. The Coyotes have events going on outside the rink before the game to entertain those who come early. You will also find guest services kiosks outside the venue which is a great way to reach the public. There is ample parking which is free. Bonuses for free parking. You can pay for premium parking but even this is at the low expense of 10 dollars. Although mandates only require 100 handicapped spots in their lots, knowing the demographic of their region, the Coyotes show true care for their fans in having over double that number available. Bonuses for taking care of their fans above and beyond that which is designated by code. Actually, customer service is their goal here. The word NO doesn’t exist…its just an acronym for New Opportunity. They really cater to their fans here in Phoenix.

We were offered a pre-game tour of the Arena and were surprised when the security guard knew who we were when we entered the rink. We would soon learn they have great communication amongst their staff.  Paul was our tour guide and took us everywhere in the rink. He has been working there since it was first home to the Coyotes in 2003. The Coyotes were originally downtown, sharing a facility with the Phoenix Suns, but circumstances caused a move out to Glendale.

Paul took us around from the two main concourses, to club level, down to the Toyota club and player level, up to the press area, the AV section and even the catwalk! Dani loved this experience! Kim trailed behind slowly but surely…one day she will master the heights thing.  We were also able to get to ice level and sit on the bench… ahhhh, where we feel most at home. 

The Arena is gorgeous. Since the arena was built for the Coyotes everything is the cream and maroon color scheme in the rink, even in the basement on players level. The halls are wide and the pristine. On the main concourse jerseys from their local teams hang on a wall with a background of youth players. The columns are covered in player sized graphics of the team members. Some of the concessions are decorated with a true Arizonan décor as well. Bonuses for TONS of bathrooms! If you are looking for your seats you can find your section bookended by coyotes symbols on the signs overhead. The Coyotes encourage their patrons to recycle by having machines that will give you a ticket for a discount at the concessions when you recycle appropriate materials. Bonuses for being good to our planet.  They have fun posters, which were made for their playoff run. Law, Meet Order is depicted below. A bunch of crazy fans captioned with “Nobody told them this wasn’t a hockey town” was another one. We liked these.

Inside the rink, the seats are Coyote red and are detailed with the team symbols on the side of the seats. There are 17,125 seats in this arena and the architect did a great job at maximizing the view as well as maximizing the seats. From either concourse one long staircase descends into the seats in each section, allowing for the most seats possible. Also, most of the upper concourse is open to the rink. Therefore, you can clearly see the ice from the concessions and halls and vice versa. Although this is great for hockey, for concerts which are also hosted in this venue, large black curtains act as barrier to keep the venue dark. There is a counter around the upper level of the concourse where you can stand and watch the game despite where your seat may be.  Howler’s kid zone is on the upstairs concourse and a great place to stop for the young ones. Our favorite part of the upper concourse was the HUGE wall sized map of North America which had a star for every NHL city with the team logo. Thank goodness we were at the game early enough to have some private time here b/c anyone walking by would have thought we were fools. Immediately seeing the mural, but without saying anything to the other, we ran to it and began to trace our trip, city by city through all 30 stops until we landed in AZ at the end. It was awesome.

Instead of having banners hanging from the ceiling to honor retired numbers/players, they have a ring of honor which has rectangle shaped banners with numbers and names that are placed ‘in a ring’ around the arena. Jeremy Roenick will be added to this list on Febrary11th. GO JR!!! Also inside the arena is one HUGE banner in one corner of the rink with their Coyote symbol on it. On another corner is a large puck with a crescent moon on it.

The Club level was really cool because we went to Gretzky’s old suite where a picture of him with Howe and Lemieux still hangs. There are two rows of suites on the long sides of the rink and one row on the ends, totaling 89 suites for this rink. The suites are nice and we love the fact that the arena seating in the suites is open to the arena and not covered by the suite layer on top, as we have noticed at other venues.  Also, we learned every suite occupied has a framed Coyotes 99 jersey signed by Gretzky and plaque. The Toyota Club was impressive. With the purchase of specific Toyota tickets one gets access to a club with gourmet food, columns decorated to look like a stack of  large round pucks and an environment of hockey. This club is situated between the two hallways which the players from both teams use to enter and exit the ice, one team either side. Therefore you can be eating and literally see them walk to and from the ice. One window on the Coyotes side is without glass so you can high five the players as they come by.

While on our tour, we also met the Graham, a producer of Fox Sports Arizona, who was going to have us do an interview on TV during the game! He was very excited about our trip. We would later get to see his TV truck outside the arena and watch a pre-game meeting. It was like listening to another language. They are so impressive!  Also on our tour, we met with the in-house AV crew who were also very enthusiastic about our trip. Martin and Rachel were great hosts and took us through our itinerary  of our game night. We were invited to attend the  standard pre-game meeting in the AV headquarters.  We went to this and it was cool to see how they run their games. Martin helped organize our whole night so we were able to not only do an in-game interview on the jumbotron with Blades, the MC, but also get to the Fox interview, shoot tee-shirts in the Coyotes tailored pressurize guns and then get to our Zamboni rides! Thanks to Fahim for running us to each place on time!

The in-game interview was fun.  Especially when they asked Kim her favorite player, to which the response was Jeremy Roenick, the place went crazy. They love him here and we can’t blame them, HE ROCKS!!!  The tee-shirt shooting was AWESOME!! We did a trial run to ensure we didn’t injure anyone—ha and we succeeded! We had a blast rallying the crowd with the Paw Patrol during the game! The Fox Sports interview was really cool too. For one thing, um hello, we were on Fox Sports, who would have thought?!?!? But also we had just seen them plan for the game hours earlier so to be apart of the product was also really cool.  We were given the chance to ride Zambonis during the second intermission which was really awesome. Thanks Ted for organizing this!  Dani use to drive a Zamboni in college. Kim had never been on one.  So it was a cool experience for both of us to take to the ice on an NHL surface and see what the players see. Cameras in hand, we had a great time!

Mike Nealy, the president and COO of the Coyotes, was also enthusiastic about our trip. He invited us up to his suite to meet him and further invited us to stay and watch the third period from there. We had a great time talking to him and watching the game from his suite.  

Fans: The fans that were in attendance were awesome. They were into the game and they cheered a lot. Our favorite fan moment was the coyote howl that taunts the other team after the home team scores. Major bummer: It is hard to get people to come to the games, thus attendance is a struggle here at Jobing.com arena. We think it is sad because they have a great rink, cool design and AMAZING staff dedicated to customer service. The people of Phoenix are doing themselves a disservice by not attending a Coyotes game. The concept here is being a part of the pack and once you’re in, you realize how awesome it is. They encourage all to be a part of the pack in many ways… our favorite being… if the parking attendants notice your car is missing team colors, they will give you a free Coyotes sticker to put on it (if you wish) to denote you’re a part of the pack.

There aren’t a lot of negatives here in the arena. The only one we can think of is attendance. Traffic in Phoenix is the big downfall and it isn’t easy to get anywhere quickly. So you do have to plan for this when attending Coyotes games.

Cool facts:

1.     Hard Way Heroes Fund! You can get a white hard hat for $30 minimum donation (which many wear to the games) and the proceeds of all these sales go to buying a Coyotes ticket for local heroes. Their goal this season is to have 17,125 tickets provided, hence a sell out by their rink’s capacity, for such amazing people in their community. Check out http://coyotes.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=74508 for more information.

2.     Buck Bash! They have one dollar beers, sodas, hot dogs and more on these specially designated game nights!

3.     First Game Certificates: Anyone attending a Coyotes game for the first time receives a certificate that commemorates their first game. The certificate is a picture of the inside of the arena, the attendees name is noted, and it is signed by the head coach.

4.     Jobing.com is the only place we have seen with the bottoms up cups. This is a crafty mechanism where the beer cups are filled from the bottom.  A magnet on the bottom is what prevents it from spilling out. They fill cups in as little as three seconds without a lot of foam. It was crazy to see. Note to those drinking, don’t play with the magnet until you’ve finished your drink… unless you want to be mean to your friend of course…

5.     Theme: Hockey the hard way is the theme here. It is no secret the Coyotes are in the rumor mill and they seem to address it and come against it with this theme. All functions with confidence here, as if they weren’t on the brink of the unknown.

6.     Glass Seats: Amazing! We loved sitting so close especially with the new glass that really gives. When someone gets rocked in front of you, the whole boards shake like a ripple effect in the water. It’s AWESOME!!! Note to those down there, don’t put your food or drink on the boards… 

After the game we were given VIP passes to get down to player level for autographs and to watch the players leave. It was the perfect ending to our tour to watch the NHL players depart the arena after their game was over….a symbolic event, we would say, as we departed behind them thus ending our tour.

Bonuses for the ice crew, all in warm ups and hockey skates. Bonuses for the paw patrol who are tastefully dressed in Coyotes colors and great at rallying the crowd. Bonuses for the staff here in Phoenix who love their jobs, are enthusiastic about hockey and who are customer service oriented. They are some of the friendliest we have met. Bonuses for the whole venue. It’s a nice rink and the plaza area makes a great adjunct to a game. Special thanks to Mike, Bucky, Paul, Martin, Rachel, Graham, Fahim, and Ted for all you did to make our last stop better than we could have ever imagined.

Themes in sports are 100% or nothing or go big or go home…well we went out with a bang and it was better than we could have dreamed. 

Thanks Mr. Nealy for everything you and your organization did to make our last game amazing!!

Thanks Mr. Nealy for everything you and your organization did to make our last game amazing!!