Coyotes welcome home celebration after playoff victory

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Coyotes are home after eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks in six games of the first round of the NHL playoffs.

The Coyotes open the second round against the Nashville Predators on Friday night in the desert.

Hundreds of screaming fans braved the warm weather on Tuesday at Sky Harbor Airport to greet the hottest team on ice. It was a welcome home party for the Coyotes.

"It's unbelievable. It's been a heck of a ride so far. Our fans have been right there with us along the way," said Coyotes goalie, Mike Smith.

It's an accomplishment for the history books. Since moving to the Valley, the Coyotes have never made it to the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Nobody knows that better than Captain Coyote, Shane Doan, who has played more than 1,240 games in a Coyotes jersey - zero in the second round of the playoffs.

"I remember my first year in the league we played Detroit. They knocked us out in six and it was kind of like we got a pretty good team we'll be okay," said Doan. "Next year we're in the playoffs and we had home ice and we got beat in seven and it's like ah it's okay and then all of the sudden you go it's 15 years later and you still hadn't done it."

The only player remaining from the franchise's Winnipeg days, Doan had his first hat trick during the regular season and led the Coyotes to their first division title in 33 years as an NHL franchise.

Although enjoying this moment, the Coyotes are hoping for a few more of these celebrations as they continue to advance even farther through the playoffs.

"We're really excited about the fact that we won. Everybody was but we know that it's only one round and we gotta win four more games," explained Doan.