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Coyotes set to open home slate with a WhiteOut

Friday, 10.09.2009 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"I think the organization is really taking a beating. The fans, the players, the marketplace has taken a beating. Everybody, not just the players, have a chip on their shoulders, especially the fans. What's gone on here in terms of attendance is more indicative of how the team has underperformed on the ice the last couple years, and that's common to what happens to any marketplace in any sport when the team doesn't win. Selling the WhiteOut, regardless of price point, everybody wants to be here."
-- Coyotes President Douglas Moss

The Phoenix Coyotes made headlines during the summer for all the wrong reasons. On Saturday night, they'll be in the headlines again, but for a far better reason.

The Coyotes have sold all 17,125 seats at Jobing.com Arena for Saturday's home opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"There's a tremendous electricity in the marketplace," Coyotes President and Chief Operating Officer Douglas Moss told NHL.com. "They want to come here and celebrate Coyotes hockey."

The key part of that celebration will involve a "Welcome Back WhiteOut," with all fans in attendance receiving a white T-shirt and white pom-poms. Moss joined all the other Coyotes employees Friday morning setting out the goodies on all the seats.

After a summer that saw almost all mentions of the team associated with bankruptcy hearings and relocation issues, Moss said the entire organization is thrilled now only to be talking about hockey.

"We have put it behind us," he said. "In the company there're no more talks of lawyers or courtrooms or bankruptcies. We're focused on the hockey season on and off ice."

Despite the uncertainty of the team staying in Phoenix, Moss said he's not at all surprised to see the home opener sold out. Part of that has been making tickets affordable -- lower-bowl seats were priced at $25, upper-bowl seats at $15. Also, he said his staff has done a remarkable job selling tickets, considering the decision to keep the team in Phoenix wasn't made until Sept. 30.

"We're really going to be paddling back from not having a selling season because there was so much uncertainly for months and months," said Moss. "We're just getting ramped up right now. We joke around the office that we've put 4-5 months of work into about two weeks. It's been a grind but everybody has had a smile on their face. The team is playing well and we're excited about that. Everyone is looking forward."

And that starts with Saturday night.

"I think the organization is really taking a beating," Moss said. "The fans, the players, the marketplace has taken a beating. Everybody, not just the players, have a chip on their shoulders, especially the fans. What's gone on here in terms of attendance is more indicative of how the team has underperformed on the ice the last couple years, and that's common to what happens to any marketplace in any sport when the team doesn't win. Selling the WhiteOut, regardless of price point, everybody wants to be here."

What might be most impressive about the sellout, however, is the opposition Saturday night. No offense to Rick Nash and Steve Mason, but they don't have quite the cachet Sidney Crosby and the Penguins or Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, or even another Pacific Division foe.

"I've worked in Anaheim also, and in non-traditional hockey markets, you do sell your opponent," said Moss. "You sell Alex is coming in or Sidney is coming in or the New York Rangers are coming in. That's part of the marketing. But that (sellout for Blue Jackets) shows people are coming here to see the Coyotes."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff