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Reminder: In Order To Play Hockey You Need Access To Water

Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes have just been told in no uncertain terms—at least as certainly as the mayor of Scottsdale can put them—that their latest plan to build an arena and retail/entertainment megalith in north Phoenix (which is essentially Scottsdale) is unwise, unresearched, unfeasible, and unwelcome. Now we have heard this before from other mayors, most notably Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman, who tried in her own wacky way to advise the Oakland A's that as an alternative to moving to southern Nevada that they should consider pissing off, but given the speed of the A's plans and relocation strategy, she, you, I and most of the members of this generation will be deeply and profoundly dead by the time that place is built.

But we're not talking about the A's—not today, anyway. We're talking about the Coyotes and their latest undercooked plan to scam some potentially prime real estate through an auction for a piece of Arizona State Trust Land, and the mayor of the town where they want to do business is actively opposed. This time, though, mayor David Ortega put his thoughts down where they could be read and comprehended, in the digital pages of the Arizona Digital Free Press. "Opinions Will Be Verified, Facts Will Be Checked, Your Voice Will be Heard." It says so right on the masthead, so it must be true.

Anyway, Ortega went down a list of reasons why the Coyotes aren't getting a building where he can see it, including these three paragraphs:

The bare Arizona State Trust Land at the edge of Phoenix has no frontage roads and water and sewer lie miles away to the west. And as a condition of sale, the 100 acres of property must develop entirely the 64th Street off ramp for access.

David Ortega

OK, that's a little inside the Valley for our tastes, but let's press on:

In March, Arizona State Land Department officials met in my office, and I pointed out that all Scottsdale Road improvements from the 101 north are entirely in our city. There is zero infrastructure west of Scottsdale Road. I demanded that infrastructure for the proposed site, including water and sewer, be pulled from Phoenix assets along 56th Street to the west.

David Ortega

And then this, which seems most convincing:

Scottsdale Water assets are absolutely not available.

David Ortega

We have checked with the heads of Defector's Science Department and though only chief physicist Comrade Thompson responded ("Hmm. I suppose there’s such a thing as frozen-things-that-are-not-water, but i think “ice” refers to frozen water? I’m not really sure"), the sense of the room seemed unanimous enough. You need water to make ice. Comrade Theisen, who serves as vice chair of Defector's Hockey Department, also confirms in a properly dismissive tone that indeed, "You need ice to play hockey, doofus!"

This, then would seem fairly definitive. Coyotes ownership cannot build an ice hockey arena without the fundamental thing that makes ice hockey, well, icy. True, the 'Yotes may look like they're skating on cat litter, but that isn't by design. Mullett Arena may be small (and according to Ortega doesn't even draw the sellout crowds of 4,600 it purports to), but it has water which it can and does freeze, thus meeting the minimum standard for hockeyage.

In short, Mayor Ortega is saying fairly clearly that whatever the Coyotes owner, Alex Meruelo, thinks he's doing in north Phoenix, Scottsdale, Carefree, Cave Creek, New River, Agua Fria, or Lake Montezuma, it isn't hockey, and it isn't anything else if he has anything to say about it. And by the way, Agua Fria, which is of course Spanish for "cold water," isn't always cold and isn't always a river, though one could certainly imagine Brady Tkachuk or Tom Wilson crosschecking some unsuspecting bastard into the rocks to, you know, "send a message."

Which brings us to the other new development in Coyotes hockey, which is Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith asking Salt Lake City citizens to help with a nickname for the prospective relocated/expansionist NHL team he is angling for, even though he has no promises yet from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. In other words, there is this:

And for the time being—global warming allowing—Salt Lake City has water. So if you have an owner with money, desire, a ready-to-inhabit arena, a graphic artist who can do a logo with that elusive desert/mountain/dry/wet/hot/cold/Hopi/Navajo/Paiute/Shoshone/Himalayan motif and, most importantly, available air and water with which to allow life and season ticket holders to exist, all we can say is this: Go Yeti!

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