Paul Bissonnette Arizona Coyotes Screengrab: NHL on TNT

The Arizona Coyotes played their likely final game in Arizona on Wednesday night.

The franchise is officially on its way to Salt Lake City after 28 years in the desert following its move as the original Winnipeg Jets in 1996.

Veteran Coyotes broadcaster Todd Walsh served as the voice of the fanbase during his emotional closing remarks on the final local Scripps Sports telecast. The program began with a somber mood and culminated in a finale that ranks among the most touching moments ever witnessed on televised sports.

Fueling the emotional night further, Paul Bissonnette, probably the most famous former Coyotes player in the media, reflected on his five-year stint with the team, which ended after the 2013-14 season.

“Guys, I was a borderline NHLer,” Bissonnette explained on NHL on TNT’s broadcast Wednesday. “I was picked up on waivers by the Arizona Coyotes. I thought I was maybe gonna be there for a month or two and got to spend five of the best years of my life living out my dream in the National Hockey League. And while there, I met so many incredible people, whether it was players on the team like Shane Doan and Keith Yandle, guys on the staff like Stan Wilson — our trainer who came over from Winnipeg and had already been through this before — the coaching staff, even the people who worked at the rink – so many amazing people.

“When I retired, I ended up having the fortune to go there and start my media career…I got to work with incredible people on the media side…It just sucks in the way that this was drawn out and the way people were treated there. Not crazy about the way ownership handled things and the way people I care about were treated, including the fans — the people through all the tumultuous times with ownership and kind of getting dragged through it, they stuck by us and supported us. And they were still there for the whiteouts, as they were at Mullett Arena (Wednesday). And you could see tears in their eyes, as you could still see them there, supporting the team.”

Despite his frustration with ownership, Bissonnette couldn’t help but acknowledge the positive impact the Coyotes organization and its fans had on his life. Touched by their dedication, he offered a rather heartfelt tribute as he managed to find the words to express his gratitude.

“To every single person that I came across in my time with the Arizona Coyotes and I had the pleasure of working with, I just want you to know I wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for you,” said Bissonnette, as he continued his emotional tribute. “I know that hockey belongs in the desert. I know that it will be back there. I don’t want the former owners that are there to be the ones to bring it back. I hope that people who appreciate the people that are there and who made the organization what it is; I want them to be a part of it and treated the way they should be.”

“It’s hard to talk about all of this and summarize it all,” he added, “but I love you guys in Coyotes land, and I’m so grateful for you. And you gave me some of the best years of my life. I’m forever grateful, and I really don’t know what else to say.”

[B/R Open Ice on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.