Monday, July 30, 2018

Thanks Dad, For Everything

Hello friends, family, acquaintances.   If you are reading this my father, Dave Zorn, has passed away at the age of 73 from a short, but tough battle with liver cancer.  He is having a reunion with my Uncle Pete and my grandfather, along with many of his friends and family.  I wish I could hear the stories.  Many of you knew my dad, whether you worked with him, grew up with him or were family.  If you didn't know him, now you will.  This is my dad from my eyes.

It started in 1972 when I came into this world.  My first memory, go figure, is sports related.  The only thing that is clear as day, is sitting on our sofa watching Game Five of the 1976 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns.  The Suns wouldn't die and it took a shot "heard around the world" from Gar Heard to send it to triple overtime.  I watched that game with my mom and dad and it freaked me out when Heard hit the shot and my dad yelled in excitement.  The Suns lost the game, but my love for sports had begun.  As I got older, my love for sports grew.  See, my dad had the hook-up.  He was the news director at KTAR Newsradio 620 a.m. in Phoenix.  Which to me at the time was kinda meaningless, until I found out we got free tickets to games.  We went to many Suns games in the 80s, not the best of decades for the Suns, but it was fun nonetheless.  We went to Phoenix Inferno games.   They were the Indoor Soccer League team in town at the time.  Those games were a blast.  Going to ASU football games as a kid with him was the best.  To this day I remember sitting in Sun Devil Stadium and watching the Sun Devils and finding out what hate was when they played the Arizona Wildcats.  It was a healthy hate.  Still is.  While at KTAR I met legends like Al McCoy, Preston Westmoreland, Roger Downey, Dave Tunell and more.  It was also during that time I started listening to the radio more and....doing my own sports reports.  Yep, as a kid I would get the sports page, a tape recorder and read scores into the machine.  I'm sure a tape exists somewhere in a box.  Little did I know that would lead to something later on in life.  Life was pretty good in west Phoenix.  I had so much fun with mom and dad, had great friends in the neighborhood and was making a ton of memories.  Then at age eleven it all changed.  My parents got divorced and dad moved to Los Angeles.  Soon after, we moved from Phoenix to this small town far away from Phoenix.  St. Johns, Arizona was now my new home and I knew no one.  That's where I lived from seventh grade through high school.  The town had 5,000 people and everyone knew each other, including teachers and police.  Couldn't get away with anything, not that I tried.  To this day I consider that small town my hometown and cherish the people and memories I made there.  I'll be honest, it was tough at the beginning, but the town shaped me and gave me great values and friends who I cherish today.

Dad started working at KNX 1070 Newsradio in Los Angeles, the best news radio station in the west in my opinion.  He worked afternoon drive at first, which was kinda cool because when the sun went down, I could actually hear him in Eastern Arizona.  Even though he wasn't there physically anymore, he still could talk to me, sort of.  That made me happy.  Summers and sometimes on Christmas I would go over and stay with him for a while.  It was pretty cool honestly.  I got to take a flight, and once a train, over to see him.  The sports never ended.  We went to Dodger games at Dodger Stadium, went to Laker and Clipper games, and cheered for the other team because c'mon, i'm not rooting for the Lakers.  The best is we went to both Rose Bowls ASU played in.  I was there, behind the Michigan Marching Band in 1986 when ASU beat Michigan 22-15.  I was also there in 1996 watching ASU battle Ohio State.  Even though it was a heartbreaking defeat for ASU, it was great being there with him and going through that experience.  Both amazing games, both with my dad.  We even went and saw arena football at Staples Center.  Arizona Rattlers and the LA Avengers.  Rattlers won of course, but it was a lot of fun.  We hit Disneyland, Magic Mountain, the beaches and a lot more. I remember a couple of times getting to walk through KNX when he was working.  Meeting many of his co-workers and seeing the history that was that building just off Sunset Boulevard.  It was the place where they recorded a ton of old radio dramas and comedies. Pictures on the wall told a story of some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood coming into that building.  It was quite the working museum.  He even got to deliver the final newscasts from the famed building before the station moved to downtown LA.  Here's a sample of that night, with the "pipes on loan from God." 

Dad KNX

The trips to LA continued when I was high school.  I played football my senior year, wait...check that, I was on the team and wore the uniform.  I stunk.  No way around it.  He never saw me play, but that's okay, but he did come to graduation and brought my grandparents with him.  Seeing them in St. Johns and taking that town in was pretty funny.  They had looks like: "this is it?"  Yep...sure was.  It was that time that I had BY FAR my biggest, stupidest thing happen to me.  After I graduated that night, I decided to take a trip out east of town with my best friend Brandon and my friend Anna with me and thought: "Sure, I can drive down these set of railroad tracks!!"  After Brandon trying to talk me out of it, I did it anyway and yep, got stuck.  I stayed with my truck all night while Brandon and Anna walked back to town to get help.  It was about 15 miles.  After getting the truck off the tracks and getting back to town, I had about an hour before meeting my Dad and grandparents for breakfast.  I didn't want to go, but my Mom made me to punish me I think.  After all is said and done, it's a memory I'll never forget that's for sure.

At this point I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  Not a clue.  Soon after graduation we moved again. This time to Holbrook, Arizona, the city the time forgot 20 years prior.  Little did I know that it was there the career light bulb would go off.  I immediately started to work at McDonalds and started college at Northland Pioneer College.  I upped my work game and took my talents to Burger King.  It was there I met my buddy Darrin, who also worked at the local radio station.  One day he asked me to go with him to Springerville to broadcast a basketball game with him.  I thought about it.  My first thought was it was our high school rival Round Valley and that could be fun.  So I went, with St. Johns letterman jacket on.  Yeah I probably went there initially to talk trash to the fans during breaks.  But, I knew players on both teams so I thought it could be fun.  After the game was over I was offered a job a day or so later with 1270 KDJI in Holbrook.  They were going to pay to not smell like grease every day, which pleased my Mom, so I took it.  When I told my dad about my sudden career change, I could tell by the sound of his voice he was surprised.  It was later in life my mom told me they had a conversation once and my dad told her "whatever you do, don't let him get into radio."  Too late.  I was hooked.  I did newscasts, ran programs, cut commercials, did more sports radio.  It was a blast and I knew that's what I wanted to do.  I think when Dad came to grips that radio was I wanted to do, he was all in with me.  After about a year, I was ready to start my adventure.  After waiting for Brandon to graduate so we could go to college together, I transferred to Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, Arizona and worked at 1230 a.m. KATO.  That only lasted a few months, but I learned a lot there and appreciated the time spent at that station.  Brandon also lasted a few months and went back home.  I stayed and met great people along the way.  My next stop, Flagstaff for the first tour of the city and enrolled at NAU.  I did a lot of radio there.  Never came off the air at KRCK, our campus radio station at the time and worked overnight weekends at KVNA.  Oof, that was rough, but it's what you did back in the day to get experience.  It was also there I met my wife Nicole, who has been a rock for me since day one.  Dad liked her right away too and they got along great.  I think even Nicole and my stepmom Carolyn bonded, which is great as well.

After graduation, this time with no train tracks involved, I moved to Phoenix to start my radio journey in earnest.  After a brief stop using my newly-acquired Bachelor's Degree in Science-Broadcast Journalism to get a job at Baskin Robbins, I was hired by Metro Networks to be a part of a start-up division called Metro Source.  It was a product billed "broadcast copy, written by broadcasters, for broadcasters."  Catchy right?  I was the third-ever employee and I was pumped.  I stayed with it for 18 years with three different owners: Metro Networks, Westwood One and finally Clear Channel/iHeart Media.  Through those 18 years, I came across many that worked with Dad over the years.  From guys like Frank Asbury, God rest his soul, to Bart Graves and countless others, I got a wealth of advice and warm wishes from many of his former co-workers and friends.  The best time during this stretch was when I got to cover the 2001 and 2002 World Series.  After the 2001 series, the first person I called after the Diamondbacks won was Dad.  I don't know what I said or how, but I remember I wanted to share all of my energy with him.  During my run at iHeart, I started to be involved with high school football broadcasts.  I went from being just a reporter at games to hosting a Friday night wrap-up show, where we went around the state to check in on how teams did.  It was a blast and I was able to formulate the show how I wanted it to be heard.  That will come in handy later.  We started doing the show on AM 1060 KDUS for a couple of years.  But then, it happened.  We moved to...KTAR.  Yep, for two hours on a Friday night another Dave Zorn was that station and it was me.  I'll be honest, the first night there got to me.  I realized what that meant.  I told Dad when the decision was made and he thought it was pretty cool too.  I think that first segment on the air I mentioned it.  I had to, it was a legacy thing.  At the end of my time at iHeart, my boss was Dad's former intern at KNX, Chris Berry.  I remember telling Dad he was going to be my boss.  He said "Great.  He's a really smart guy and you'll learn a lot from him."  He was right, I did.  Both good and bad, which I took on to my next and best job of them all.  Before we move on though, during my 18 years in Phoenix, my son Ethan was born.  Dad and Carolyn were there, well at least for the most part.  See Ethan was pretty stubborn and didn't mind waiting more than 30 hours to arrive.  They decided to go back home to Avondale at the time and come when he was here.  Ethan and Dad got along great.  We spent quite a bit of time with Dad and Carolyn when they were at their Arizona place in the winter and Ethan always had a blast with "Grandpa Dave."

In June of 2014 things were falling apart at iHeart for me and I decided enough was enough and I needed out.  I was spent.  Again, one of my rocks during this time was Dad.  I told him what was going on and that I was losing the love that I had for this business and he agreed that I needed out.  I started to look around with hopes I could land somewhere else in Phoenix.  However, one place popped up first and it was perfect.  KAFF Radio in Flagstaff.  KAFF had always been the powerhouse in Flagstaff, unbeatable.  So why not?  It was a possible chance to go back to where I went to college.  I asked Nicole about the idea and she was all for it.  It's where we met and have tremendous memories.  So I put in for it, figuring something probably wouldn't be right, but it never hurts to ask.  Within two days I got a call back, they wanted me to go up to talk.  I took a day off and headed north.  After two hours, spending most of it with the general manager who together we knew about ten people, I was giddy.  About two days later I got an offer and accepted.  Actually, I accepted and then was offered.  That's how excited I was.  So, about a day later I talked to Dad and told him the news that we were moving to Flagstaff to become news director/anchor/reporter/the sole news guy.  I felt I was ready for it, but still a little scared.  Dad reassured me that I was ready and it was the perfect spot for me.  Boy was he right.  I've been in that position for four years now and it was the best decision I've ever made professionally and my radio family has been incredible.  I've built the news department into something pretty special and I've added high school football and basketball play-by-play to my list and I'm also the halftime show host for Northern Arizona University football and basketball radio broadcasts.  I don't know how to say no, but enjoy it all.  A few years ago I gave him the station tour and went through what I do on a daily basis.  I remember him being confused a lot by all I do, which is okay because that was me the first few months there.  When we were in one of the studios, one of my newscasts came on, which made me a tad nervous.  I mean, not only was he my Dad by also an award winning radio news guy.  It was a little bit of pressure.  Ironically that was the first time he heard me do what he did for so long.  He took it all in and smiled and immediately told me good job and started to break down what he liked.  It was like the couch invite from Johnny Carson to a comedian on the Tonight Show, kids YouTube that.  It was validation and all I needed.  A couple of years ago, Dad and Carolyn decided to move to Michigan permanently as they got worn out driving across country every year to their place in the Midwest.  It was a sad time, but understandable.  We got one last stop in Flagstaff and waved them goodbye.

So we fast forward to now.  A couple of weeks ago he had a massive drop in blood sugar and a few days later he was gone.  Over the past few weeks I talked to him a lot.  As Zorns, we have the knack to try and find the best out of bad times and we did.  We joked a little about how he went to the hospital and what was going on.  The last time I saw him it was by phone.  My stepsister Christine hooked us up by Facebook video chat.  This first thing I told him was he needed a shave.  He grabbed his chin and agreed.  We then opened up.  I emptied my heart to him and he did to me I felt.  It was the single most difficult thing I ever had to do.  I told him I appreciated all that he's done for me, personally and professionally, because I'm not doing what I do without his constant advice and knowledge.  I had a radio beast as a Dad, "pipes on loan from God" and I tapped into that every chance I got and I'm so grateful for that.  Dad wasn't perfect.  He made mistakes and paid for them.  Our relationship wasn't your typical father-son relationship, but we made the best of it.  He made the best of it.  I have life-long memories that I've told many times and I'll take with me forever.  That's all a kid can ask for from his Dad.  We had a great time.  Thanks Dad.  I love you.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Time For This Tomfoolery To Stop

It's been a year since I've posted a blog.  A lot has changed.  I've moved myself and my family to Flagstaff, Arizona for a change of life.  I am a proud NAU alum and it's great to be home and at a great job with great people.  Life couldn't be better.  I did however leave family and friends behind, include people I have known for a long time in sports media.  This is where this blog now begins.

About nine months ago, I noticed this fellow on Twitter who was tweeting about Arizona Sports.  I reached out to him and introduced myself and offered help.   I tend to do that from time to time, it's my nature.  His name is Casey Gagnon and tweets under the handle @SportsHubAZ .  Within a couple of weeks, he tried to get credentialed with the now Arizona Coyotes and was turned down.  He got irate and launched into personal attacks to people within the organization, people who I knew and liked.  I told him he was making a big mistake and that he was going about it the wrong way.  He wouldn't listen and instead went into a jealous rage on media members I have grown to like and respect.  If you follow this story, you know the names and I don't need to include them here.  He has beaten his drum that he is a "professional" and the "Coyotes don't want professional coverage." Again, I tell him he was making a big mistake and was very wrong in going after the writers he did.  Again, he didn't listen.  So I decided that I've had enough and didn't want to waste my time with this guy anymore and he'll bury himself.  I was then alerted to a post on NHL.com, where he decided to lay into me.  He decided to post a vicious and all out lie that I told someone to kill themselves, while "working" at a Coyotes game.  I approached him again, saying he was not telling the truth and I demanded an apology.  He "apologized" by tweeting out the same garbage, of which I have screenshots of.  I was then approached by a friend of mine on Twitter that Casey has a dark past.

According to Maricopa County Superior Court, Mr. Gagnon had been arrested in 2011 for DUI and Endangerment, which means he put someone's life in danger with his moronic decision.  Court records indicate, Mr. Gagnon plea bargained to probation and time served.  He was also sentenced to wear an electronic monitoring device and his license was suspended.  So, in my mind, he's now an ex-convict.  It's okay though, I know a few and they are good people.  Not judging here, just stating facts.  So, Mr. Gagnon continues to bash my friends and the Coyotes organization.  Then, a fan decides to play a prank on him and feeds him rumors about Coyotes Captain Shane Doan wanting out and demands to be traded.  Of course, like a non-media member he is, takes it hook line and sinker.  It carried on for a few days until the Coyotes themselves shot out a tweet claiming a cute fuzzy bunny was the source of his rumor.  Of course, like the mental case Casey is, he goes off.  He blames everyone in the organization and demands an apology.  MANY people tell him over and over again that he got played by a fan and still to THIS DAY he thinks it was an inside job.  The best joke is the one that carries and keeps coming back.  This very well may be the best joke ever played in the history of social media.  But, I digress.  During his tirade against members of the media, I come to find out that every sports team in town has blocked him and has made sure he won't be credentialed for anything.  But, he keeps this farce going on his twitter account, again launching false accusations against people.

Another thing, he lies to his followers.  At least the one's he hasn't blocked because he can't take the bad comments and questions.  Again, he's not that much of a man. The lies come when he tweets he's at various games, which he isn't.  Numerous times he's been asked by followers to meet up with them to say hi and he doesn't respond.  Also, plus he says he's not being appreciated for his hard work.  I ask, what hard work is this?  He has no blog, no website and no means to spread his craft except the twitter account.  Hard work is working two jobs to make ends meet.  Hard work is a single mom with three kids having to work all hours of the day to make the best life for their kids.  Hard work is not an ex-con, taking the bus because he lost his license and claiming he's at ballparks and arenas covering games when he's not.  Again, this guy is a piece of work.

Fast forward to today, where he tweets out another sad story about how the Coyotes treated him wrong.  However, this comes hours after demanding the ASU basketball coach Herb Sendek wouldn't be fired and launched yet another attack against credentialed and respected reporters who broke the story.  Again, Casey was proven wrong.  What does he do?  Instead of being a man and owning up to his mistake, he launches an attack again against the Coyotes.  In the meantime, i'm again alerted to another piece of criminal mischief on Mr. Gagnon.

According to the Arizona Supreme Court website,  Casey was arrested recently, on two counts of Theft.  One count was on Valentine's Day, how sweet.  So, in case you are scoring at home that's 1 count DUI, 1 count Endangerment and 2 counts of Theft.  That's a pretty long list for a tweeter claiming the Coyotes did him wrong by not credentialing him, for doing nothing, and blaming everything in the world on them and not himself.  Maybe, just this one, he would actually take account that he is the problem and not everyone else.  Oh and Casey, President Obama called and he was wondering why he wasn't blamed for your stupidity either.  I hope you get your life straight and take stock in yourself instead of creating lies about others.  Do what's good here.

Dave


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pat Tillman. My Small Story.

Today, Tuesday April 22nd 2014, marks the 10 Year Anniversary of the death of former ASU linebacker/Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.  Most people remember Pat the football player and a guy who spoke his mind, which may be the biggest thing I admire about him.  Others remember Pat Tillman the Army Ranger.  You don't see celebrities/athletes give up a big money contract to do something he thought was the right thing to do: fight for your country.  I've had discussions with friends on if Pat had the ability to be a Hall of Famer, or go down as one of the best football players of all time.  At ASU, absolutely, the guy was a machine.  He was always around the football.  In the pros, probably not, but he made sure he was around the football whenever he could.  Which brings me to my story about Pat.  Unlike others, I didn't have a lot of chances to talk to Pat and get to know him.  Once a week I went out to the Cardinals practice facility in Tempe to get weekly preview audio for work.  Through a mutual friend I got to know quarterback Chris Greisen, who's a good guy.  While shooting the bull one day with Chris, Pat sat down at his locker to eat some lunch.

For those of you who remember this moment, this talk I was about to have with Pat was the week after kicker Billy Gramatica tore his ACL by celebrating an extra point.  At that time, punter Scott Player had a hamstring injury so he couldn't kick.  Coach Mac was wondering who he had to kick and of course, Pat says he would do it.  He kicked off a couple of times and did pretty good.  So, when Pat was done eating I went over to him and this was our conversation.

Me: "Ready to kick again this week Pat."
Pat: (smiling) "Do you see those guys out there the team brought in to kick this week."
Me: (laughing) "Yeah, I thought they brought them in to motivate you to kick better this week."
Pat: (still smiling) 'Yeah, that's it"
Me: "it looked like you had a blast though."
Pat: "Oh man I did, it's probably the most fun I've had playing football since high school."
Me: "Oh really?  It beats playing in the Rose Bowl or now on Sunday's"
Pat: "Absolutely.  Don't get me wrong all of those are great memories, but dammit, that was a blast on Sunday."
(Quarterback Jake Plummer comes into the locker room after working out, claiming he had the biggest arms in the locker room.)
Pat: "Jake, stop being a dumbass.  You've been doing it for years."
(the locker room laughs, Jake just keeps walking."

I thanked Pat for talking with me and wished him luck.  He said "thanks man, good talking to you."

At that time, it was cool because as an ASU fan I just talked to one of the key guys who dominated in 1996 and 97 and a guy I admired a great deal then.  Ever since he died, I think of that moment a lot and I think how lucky I was to have that conversation, as goofy and meaningless it really was.  I'm happy I have that memory of Pat and the legacy he leaves behind.  He was a great man, a great leader and a damn good football player.

RIP42

Dave

Friday, April 11, 2014

What's Next For The Arizona Coyotes

At the time of this blog, they still are the Phoenix Coyotes, but that will go away for good after the buzzer sounds on Sunday and the Arizona Coyotes will be born.  It's still going to take some getting used to, but it's a new chapter to this franchise that has seen it's ups and downs since moving here from W..Win...up there.

With new ownership in place, I am positive these guys want this non-playoff thing to be short-lived and will do anything to fix what needs fixing.  So, what needs fixing? Here are my thoughts.

I've seen some fans mention that Dave Tippett and/or Don Maloney need to go. Settle down people, that's not going to happen.  They will be back.  Now IF this happens again next year, then you can put one or both on the hot seat.

There are a few things this team lacked severely this year.

1. A strong defensive effort from everyone involved.  There were WAY too many turnovers, especially in the defensive zone.  Pretty much Merry Christmas for the opposing team at least once a game.  What's missing was one or two stay at home defenders that are physical.  Rusty Klesla was that guy, until his career change after a cheap shot from the Kings Nolan that went unpunished for whatever reason.  Rusty was never the same and hasn't been the same since.  What's nice to see is Chris Summers upping his game since returning from Portland, but he's a UFA and I would like to see him resign here, on a one-way contract.  I think the kid has earned it.  I like the improvement of both Connor Murphy and Brandon Gormley.  Murphy could grow into that stay at home roll, but needs to play bigger and be bigger.  Still, I think a veteran stay-at-home dman, or two, is needed on the blue line.

2. No physical play.  When Paul Bissonnette is your only physical player, that's a problem because his all around game isn't good enough to be an everyday player.  Anyone see Kyle Chipchura or Rob Klinkhammer this year?  Me neither.  This is a VERY big need for this team and I think this is one of the overhaul phases of this team.  Most of the time I am in the visiting locker room post game.  Trust me, when teams came into Jobing.com Arena, they knew they weren't going to be pushed around much.  That HAS to change.

3. Scoring.  They need more scoring punch.  We'd obviously like to see more out of Erat and Ribeiro next season, but in Ribs' case they need to upgrade the wings to make him want to get involved.  As we saw, when he can't get something going, he tends to cash it in for the game.  BTW, those who want Ribs out on the first train smoking won't get their wish.  No one will take his contract and ownership won't eat it.  He will be back, like it or not.  Erat has another year and could be an interesting piece at the trade deadline next year.  I'm intrigued on what Max Domi can do.  Another year in juniors was the right move and he had another monster year.  Added confidence and another year older will only help the kid.  

4. Protect the net better.  This falls under the physical play category.  Too may teams took runs at Mike Smith and one team succeeded to injury him, that being the New York Rangers.  Also, not a surprise. Teams know what they can and can't do to teams and video shows, when you do some fly-bys and take shots at Smitty, there is very little backup and you get in his head.  Again, another area that needs to change.

5. FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE GET MORE GUYS IN FRONT OF THE OPPOSING GOALTENDER.  It's a simple thing that takes commitment.  Martin Hanzal can't be the ONLY guy that does that could he?  Don't answer that, we know that's a yes.  When he gets hurt, well there goes a losing streak and a scoring slump.  Some may like to bag on Hanzal, but his butt in front of the net led to quite a few goals.  We need more guys that can do just that.

I've been asked who do I think we go after in free agency.  I've looked at the prospective list and I can tell you, I have no clue.  One name that will come up again is Ales Hemskey.  I don't think Ottawa will resign him and if he enters the market, expect the Coyotes to be interested.  As for the rest, I simply don't know.  Expect a trade or two as well, which leads me to fans biggest argument. Keith Yandle.  Let me just say, I'm not a Yandle hater at all.  I like what he brings to the room and on the PP and offensively.  But, his turnovers at times were deadly. It's there in broad daylight.  Is he the only one who does it? Nope, even OEL has those games.  Yandle still is a movable piece on a friendly contract, and would bring back a nice return.  But, that's the only way I trade Yandle, if the return is too much to say no.  I know Shane Doan loves the guy and for good reason, but to make this team better, maybe it's time.

I don't know what's going to happen in the coming months, but I do know this.  IceArizona, Don Maloney and Dave Tippett will do everything in their power in the offseason to make this team better and to makes sure seasons like this one are few.  I know not making the playoffs stings Coyotes fans, but there are better days ahead I believe.  Keep the faith, lord knows we've been through worse.

Dave


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Phoenix Coyotes Stretch Run

The Olympics are over and three of the five Phoenix Coyotes that played in the hockey tournament in Sochi, came home with medals.  Forward Lauri Korpikoski won bronze with Finland, defenseman Oliver Eckman-Larsson won silver with Sweden and goaltender Mike Smith won gold with Team Canada.  Now, it's time to refocus for the home stretch and the 2014 NHL Playoffs.

The Coyotes are tied in points with the Dallas Stars for eighth in the Western Conference, but would lose the tie-breaker so technically they are ninth.  So what do the Coyotes need to do to make the playoffs this year?  Well, let's break it down shall we?

First.  Consistency.  They have played like one of the best teams in the league one game (Pittsburgh, Kings, etc.) and one of the worst the next (swept by NHL worst, Buffalo).  They can't take games off now, especially when every point is crucial.

Second: In my opinion they need two pieces either to acquire or step up.  Let's start on the blueline.  The Coyotes top four have been good.  Morris-Yandle, OEL-Z have had a good run of it this year, when they are healthy.  However, the third defensive pairing has been less than impressive.  Head coach Dave Tippett has tried different combos with very little result.  So, before the trade deadline they need to add a defensive-minded, physical, defenseman.  Or find one in the system that can do it.  Next, a third-line left winger to pair with Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal.  Someone who can score and contribute on both ends of the ice.  If nothing is done by the deadline, then players that are here have to sacrifice more to make this work or the season will end soon.

Now off the ice the Coyotes, under new ownership, has been nothing short of fantastic.  Members of IceArizona, the Coyotes ownership group, has talked with every fan who wanted a word with them.  The Saturday tailgates are fun and a big success and the vibe at games is noticeably different.  From what I have heard, sponsorships are up, suite sales are up, season tickets are up and even average attendance is up from the last full season, which was 2011-12.  Everything is pointing in the right direction post-NHL ownership.

The one thing the franchise needs immediately is a playoff appearance.  Two extra home games minimum, likely sellouts, will help the bottom line and increase interest in the hockey club heading into next year.  Any additional games/series will only help.  So, lets hope General Manager Don Maloney does the necessary things in the next week, or offseason, to help shape this team into a Stanley Cup contender soon.  We'll see.

DZ


Thursday, November 7, 2013

My 2013 High School Football Playoff Predictions

Since this is my ninth straight season of being a part of the AIA365.com broadcast team, and co-host of THE most listened to high school football wrap-up show in the state, I figure I would put together my prognostications for this year's playoffs.  So, feel free to rip away either now, or wait until after the state title games to do it then.  Either way, enjoy my thoughts. 

Let's start with Division 6, eight-man football.  They are in the semi's now, so we will start there.

One semifinal is a game I will be broadcasting on AIA365.com with my good friend Chris Martin, Bagdad vs. Gilbert Christian at 2 p.m. at Shadow Mountain High School.

Gilbert Christian has put up some impressive numbers this season, including scoring nearly 90 points in a game.  The Knights are led by quarterback Bailey Anderson, who threw ten touchdowns in that game alone.  However, the Sultans have a tough defense, but I'll go with scoring..Gilbert Christian wins and will play Pima for the title.  Mogollon isn't as strong as in year's past and Pima has been tough for the last couple of years now.  With that said, Pima wins the D6 state title, in a close game over Gilbert Christian.

Now to D5:  This one is tough.  Any one of about 6 teams could win.  I like ALA, NW Christian, St. Johns (in the upset) and Joy Christian.  Now, you are probably thinking I'm homering that pick with St. Johns.  A little, but I have reason.  Having talked to other coaches and watching some film, I am confident if SJ gets there, they can pull the upset.  The Redskins have a nice team that is well coached and won't give up.  The Shamrocks are a BIG team, but some there think they are already planning for the semifinals. If that's true, the Redskins can win..and I think will.  I like ALA beating NW Christian, but this could be opposite.  The Crusaders want revenge on the Coyotes from a loss earlier this year.  I think Joy Christian beats St. Johns.  I think JC is just too much for the upset minded Redskins. I have ALA winning the state title, beating Joy Christian's chance at winning two state straight state titles in two different divisions.  JC won the D6 title last year before moving up.  A team that could cause some headaches is Round Valley.  They are unknown to the valley teams and that plays into their hands.  Watch out for the Elks.  This division could go any way and won't be surprised if it does, but this is how I think right now. Winner: Arizona Lutheran Academy.

Now D4:  I have Show Low winning this division all the way, with very little trouble in my opinion.  Advancing to the semis are: Show Low, Blue Ridge, River Valley and Seton Catholic the defending D5 champs.  I took River Valley over Snowflake because I have heard some good things about the Dust Devils.  I saw the Lobos beat Seton earlier in the year and they are a tough, physical team.  Wouldn't be surprised if it's three mountain teams in the semis, I just like RV a little more.  Show Low beats Blue Ridge again, Seton over River Valley.  Show Low wins by 10-14 points.  I love Kyle Johnson the Seton QB.  He has a GREAT arm, but there isn't enough weapons for the Sentinals to the the Cougars.  Winner: Show Low.

Onto D3:  There are three teams that can win the state title.  Williams Field, Saguaro and Desert Edge.  All have speed and great offenses, but Williams Field impressed me on defense.  They have some kids who can hit and tackle.  Of course Saguaro have the 1-2 punch of Luke Rubenzer at QB and Christian Kirk at..well..everything.  He is to them now as D.J. Foster was for the Sabercats when he played there.  My semi picks: Williams Field, Queen Creek, Desert Edge and Saguaro.  I have QC beating Peoria. But, the Panthers could give QC a run, but the Cougars are healthy with a strong 1-2 punch in the backfield.  Desert Edge-Saguaro SHOULD be for the title game, but they still play in the semis.  Offensive records could be broken in this game.  A lot of speed, but I will take Saguaro slightly over Desert Edge.  The last time WF and QC played, the Black Hawks dominated.  Williams Field is without its starting QB for the rest of the year and he is a good one.  But, I believe in the rally effect when a teammate goes down, especially with a good coaching staff at Williams Field.  It will be a closer game but WF wins.  Saguaro beats Williams Field in the state title game with speed and play making, however Williams Field should keep it close.  Winner: Saguaro.

Now D2:  This is Salpointe's state title to lose.  They are a very good football team and some think they could give Mountain Pointe a run in D1.  But they won't play, so let's forget it.  Here are my semifinal picks: Salpointe, Centennial, Chaparral and Mesquite.  The first three are locks IMO, but..watch Campo Verde here.  They are well coached and have some nice wins.  But, defense wins championships and Mesquite has that so we will go with them.  Salpointe-Centennial will be VERY entertaining.  Both have speed, both play good defense and both hasn't really been challenged.  The Coyotes lost to Chandler in week one with a lot of mistakes.  Bad tackling and turnovers cost them against the Wolves.  Since then, they have been very good.  However, Salpointe has beaten two good teams from out of state, Liberty from Henderson, Nevada and Crespi from Encino, California, both blowouts and both on the road.  That's big.  Salpointe wins, but Centennial will make it interesting.  Chaparral is playing at a high level right now and should get QB Sean Paul Brophy back this week, which is huge.  If he stays healthy, they will get to the title game.  Mesquite is very good on defense, but not enough offense to keep up.  Chap wins.  The title game will be amazing and I'll be honest, Chap wins if they play the perfect game.  No turnovers or dumb penalties.  That's what it's going to take to beat the Lancers.  This game is at the UofA and it makes a difference.  Salpointe wins, but this could be a very close game.  Winner: Salpointe Catholic.

Now...D1:  Again..this is Mountain Pointe's title to lose.  They are very very good.  All three facets of the game are nearly flawless.  A good reason they are one of the top-ten teams in the nation, according to MaxPreps.  The way they beat down nationally-ranked Bishop Gorman in game one, at their home, was beyond impressive. The Pride have steamrolled since then.  They took apart Chandler quickly.  Beat down Hamilton.  Just dominated along the way.  The only question is, who are they going to play for the title.  Here's my final four:  Mountain Pointe, Desert Ridge, Hamilton and Chandler.  Pretty cut and dry for me here.  Hamilton could face a challenge from Pinnacle if they play, but that's about it.  What a semifinals.  I LOVE Desert Ridge and what Jeremy Hathcock has built there.  He finally has enough talent and depth where he doesn't have to play everyone both ways.  Not to mention the Morrison brothers who are deadly on offense.  However, they get the best team maybe in the last five years in Mountain Pointe.  Sorry my friend, the Pride advance.  Hamilton...Chandler.  Nothing more needs to be said really.  The Wolves FINALLY got their first win over Hamilton since Hamilton has been open, which is 18 years.  This time, Chandler is the better team.  IF they stay focused on the task at hand, they can beat Hamilton.  BUT..this is where coach Steve Belles shines.  I'll take the Huskies but by a field goal.  So...Mountain Pointe...Hamilton for the title.  The dominant team versus the program.  Like I said, Mountain Pointe will have to beat themselves to lose the title.  In my opinion, they don't.  The Pride win the state title over Hamilton.  Winner: Mountain Pointe.

I have to add, I talked to Mountain Pointe head coach Morris Vaughn for a good half-hour last Saturday at the selection show.  I want to play for him.  Old school coach and is incredibly smart.  He told me that Desert Ridge, Chandler and Hamilton are all better than his team.  It's all coach speak, but he had examples for why and I listened.  He told me Chandler has the best athletes and I think that's true.  I told him sometimes it takes coaching and belief.  That's Hamilton and Mountain Pointe. 

The best part of all of this we will get to see this all play out on the field.  This will be a great playoff season D1 through D6. 

All the best to the coaches and players that will take part in this great event.  I hope for no injuries and fair play among everyone. 

Before I end this, I want to give a clap to Marcos head coach Roy Lopez, who has been put on leave at the school and won't coach the Padres in the first round.  He has always had time for us and is a good man.  As of this writing, I don't know what happened at Marcos, but I hope it isn't serious and we will see him at another program soon.  All the best coach. 

Don't forget to catch myself, Curt Blakney, Ben Gabrielson and James Mello for the AIA365.com Friday Night Wrap-Up Show, this Friday night from 9:30-11:30 p.m. on AM 860 in Phoenix and on ArizonaSports.com.  Join us then.

Dave


Dave

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Your Phoenix Suns?

Tonight is the beginning of another season of the Phoenix Suns.  Many media cohorts have said the Suns will win anywhere from 20 to 25 games.  I happen to agree with them, but it's a different era of Suns basketball.  I've lived in Arizona all my life and my fandom with the Suns goes back since birth.  I remember players I looked up to as a kid. Alvin Adams, Paul Westphal and others.  Then as I got older, the players changed.  In came new players, Kevin Johnson, now head coach Jeff Hornacek, Charles Barkley to name a few.  Then the recent run with Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire and of course, Steve Nash.  Those teams were fun and those memories are pretty good.  I look around U.S. Airways Center, and see some of those names in the Ring of Honor, along with former trainer Joe Proski, the late Cotton Fitzsimmons and of course, my idol, broadcaster Al McCoy. 

Long gone are those names and teams, and the team is going through a massive rebuild.  Ever since Robert Sarver bought this team, the air of enthusiasm has emptied out of the arena.  Some have said it may be in his best interest to sell the team and get out of the business.  Who knows what the future holds.  Heck, maybe this rebuild will finally give this city, and Suns fans, what they have long wanted out of this organization, an NBA title.  Only the future holds the answer to that.

People have asked me for a couple of months, "Dave, why do you even want to bother with the Suns this year, they suck."  Well, that could be, but suck also pays the bills along with success.  As bad as this team may be, they are still a fixture in Phoenix.  All of the memories of success and failure, are all ingrained in the minds of longtime Suns fans.  I giggle at fans of other teams in town that bash and poo-poo the Suns, forgetting that their team has gone through equally as tough trials and tribulations like Suns fans are going through. 

Here's the simple fact as fans of the hometown teams.  We are all in this together.  Cardinals, Coyotes, Suns and Dbacks fans should wish each other well and hope for success, because that helps everyone out.  It helps the economy, it helps every team's ad rates, yes remember it's all still a business.  See, that why the new owners of the Phoenix Coyotes are at the season opener for the Suns.  They get it.  It's about a team atmosphere, with everyone working for one common goal: Victory. 

So, with that said, I wish all the success in the world to the Suns and everyone involved in the organization because even though this year could be very rough, in the future I feel it all will be worth it. 

Dave