Sod's howling mad

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

Curt Keilback will be in the house tonight, but for the first time in 27 years he won't be calling a game for the franchise he devoted his career to.

The man who'll always be known as The Voice of the Jets in these parts, Keilback was unceremoniously dumped by the Phoenix Coyotes last May.

And the Coyotes' appearance here for an NHL exhibition against Toronto this evening is opening up wounds that obviously hadn't healed in the first place.

"I've often heard that when you get mad about something, after a while you cool down," Keilback told me. "I get madder. It didn't make any sense. As long as I'd been there, I deserved better than that."

What happened last spring was classic Coyotes.

The franchise that hasn't got anything right since it relocated reacted to a disastrous season by, among other things, firing the play-by-play guy. The same guy described as "one of the finest play-by-play announcers in the NHL" in the team's own media guide last season.

"They called me for a meeting on the 4th of May," Keilback recalled. "It was funny, because they called the meeting to be at Starbucks at 8:30 a.m. All of a sudden I get a call late the night before, saying, 'We've changed the site of the meeting to the office.' Maybe they changed their mind that quickly, because I don't think you fire people at Starbucks.

"It was just a really bush league way of doing things."

Guess they'll have to rename the Keilback Press Box at Glendale Arena.

The lame explanation from Phoenix president Doug Moss: the team was going in a new direction.

"I've come to the conclusion that the current president wants to fire anybody and everybody who was there prior to his arrival," Keilback said. "I didn't say much at the time because I didn't want to get blackballed. You hate to sit back and just let people get away with that kind of stuff."

Keilback, the Yorkton, Sask., product who was known as 'Sod' around these parts, was part of a front office hatchet job that also saw long-time employee Rich Nairn ousted from his communications gig.

So the number of connections to the Jets continues to dwindle in the desert.

"There are a couple, but I don't want to mention their names because maybe Moss hasn't realized these guys are there," Keilback cracked.

The good news is Phoenix's loss appears to be our gain, as Keilback is likely moving back to the city his NHL career was launched.

He's already started taking a course in real estate -- now that would be an entertaining house hunt -- and begun writing a book about his experiences with the team. He's not counting on landing another play-by-play job, although he'd love to.

"It's not something that I'm going to throw all my eggs into that basket, because it might not be something that's possible," he said. "I've got to find a position somewhere."

Tonight, he'll find a position somewhere up in the press box, but it won't be the one he was born to fill. And it'll be a far cry from his last visit, when the Coyotes played Edmonton here, a year ago.

"It seems kind of strange," Keilback said. "Usually you're at training camp this time of year. I remember thinking, 'Oh, good, we're going to Winnipeg again next fall.' That was a lot of fun last year. Hell, they let me drop the puck at centre ice, and the ovation I got was incredible."

We don't have to tell you who The Voice of the Jets will be cheering for tonight.

"Not the Coyotes," Keilback said. "Although I think quite highly of the some of the people there, like Shane Doan and Stan Wilson, the equipment guy. But they're not very near and dear to my heart anymore, that's for sure. Not the way they kicked me in the ass."


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