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Five for Howling asks: Is it time to watch the Phoenix Coyotes?

When your team is in the doldrums of its worst season in franchise history, even nice people tend to pile on.

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

The Phoenix Coyotes have been the fourth most popular major sports team in Phoenix since they moved from Winnipeg to the warm, sunny desert to promote a game played on ice. Imagine that's the reason it's fourth?

The Arizona Cardinals, despite being bad-to-mediocre for most of the last two decades, still drew big crowds even when they were playing outside in Sun Devil Stadium in 100+ degree heat.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been up and down during their 14 years in the valley - from a high of winning a Super Bowl to a low of losing 100+ games - but they have at least drawn a consistent TV viewing audience (despite modest crowds) and remain a solid presence in the community and sports pages/sites.

But it was always the Phoenix Suns who dominated the hearts and dreams of valley sports fans for 6 or more months per year. The Van Arsdale brothers, Westphal, Hawkins and other from the 70s still have a warm place in fans' hearts.

The 80s featured Sweet D, drug scandals and eventually a rebirth in the form of Kevin Johnson and Tom Chambers.

Then the 90s gave us Charles Barkley and the Suns' second appearance in an NBA Finals - one of the best and most entertaining Finals ever played.

The 2000s gave us Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and three Western Conference Finals in six seasons.

But now the Suns are one of the worst teams in the league and game attendance is at an all-time low in the new arena (since 1992).

Across town, the NHL ended it's untimely lockout and now is ready to run through a shortened schedule, starting on January 19. The Coyotes have a smart front office that put together a playoff-caliber team on a shoe-string budget.

Carl Putnam over at SB Nation's Coyotes blog - Five for Howling - gives us 10 reasons it's time to focus on the Coyotes this spring over the struggling Suns.

One of the items on the list:

4. If there is one group of fans who know what it is like when an owner comes hires a player agent as GM it is fans of Phoenix's hockey club. You'll have plenty to talk about with your new found brethren.

Check out his list here, and give them a shout.

While I still love the Suns, I also like to watch quality sports play. And the Coyotes should be able to supply that.

But bring a jacket if you decide to watch them play a game at their arena.

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