On The Couch With Craig: Dan Lingnau

The fifth in a series of profiles of AZ Coyotes Insider founding members

Welcome to the AZ Coyotes Insider newsletter. I generally publish stories four to six times per week (some of them free). By subscribing, you’ll be supporting independent, accountable journalism. Subscribe now so you won’t miss a story.

Much like Dan Lingnau’s predecessor, Todd York, Lingnau was apprehensive about being featured in On The Couch.

“You might have a bit of a challenge to make the life of a grain farmer in Saskatoon interesting for readers, but let’s see what you got,” he wrote. “If it’s not working, feel free to bail.”

Turns out, Dan’s life is interesting even if, uh, baling, is a part of it (I apologize for that awful farming joke). His ties and devotion to the Coyotes are deeper than most, and multiple family members play hockey. How quintessentially cool Canadian is that?

Let’s get to the fifth founding member to take the couch, and glean more insights on this Coyotes community we are building.

Dan Lingnau with his daughter, Monique. Dan was awarded the game belt from his beer league team on the same day that Monique received the golden jersey from her team. Photos courtesy of Dan Lingnau

Full name: Dan Lingnau

Twitter: @DanLingnau

Birthplace: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Current city of residence: Saskatoon

Arizona history: Arizona is my preferred vacation destination. I try to make it down to the Valley annually. 

Age: 44

Occupation: Grain farmer

Hobbies: Hockey, golf, running

Little known fact about you: I hate running. Why do I run if I hate it? Same reason I have garlic and spinach in my morning smoothies. "Supposed" to be good for you, even though its terrible.

Describe how you became a Coyotes fan and your involvement with the team over the years?

I grew up a Jets 1.0 fan. When the Jets moved to Arizona, I was crushed, but being from Saskatchewan, it’s not like I attended many games anyway; too expensive and too far away for a student. So I kept my allegiance to the franchise and became a Phoenix Coyotes fan. Back in the late 90s/early 2000s it was real tough following the Coyotes from up here. There was little to no coverage on them that was available. I remember trying to listen to a playoff radio broadcast of the Yotes against the Blues (1999) on my desktop with my rural, dial-up internet. Pretty frustrating to say the least.

During the past decade when I realized that Phoenix is a not just a place for old snowbirds, but for younger people as well, I started coming down regularly. I usually try to organize the trip to coincide with a Coyotes homestand. I personally think Gila River Arena is a wonderful place to watch hockey. There is something about having a beer in Westgate and walking up to the rink in shorts and a T-shirt that this guy truly appreciates. It just doesn't happen around here.

You are from Saskatchewan so it is almost assumed that you and your family have played or still play hockey. Can you detail for readers the extent and history of your family's hockey playing habits?

Good assumption! I was very lucky to be able to grow up playing minor hockey in Delisle. It’s a small town outside of Saskatoon that has an exceptionally nice rink for the size of the town (it’s also the birthplace of Hockey Hall of Fame brothers Max and Doug Bentley). We had some really competitive teams throughout the years. I was never skilled enough to go anywhere with it, but consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to play. And that has enabled me to continue playing now.

I currently play in a couple of beer leagues. My kids play. My wife even plays. I got her started playing hockey at age 26. I convinced her to suit up in a kids/parent game against our son's team. She was immediately hooked and has been playing with a local ladies team ever since.  

A couple times, my schedule has lined up perfectly on a weekend: leave the house at 6 a.m., coach the kids’ hockey tournament for the day, get home at 8 p.m., go play beer league, get home around 1 a.m., watch a DVRed Coyotes game played earlier that night, crawl into bed around 3 a.m. My wife says I have issues. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saskatchewan is the most populous province in Canada without an NHL team (although it is also without a top-15 city in terms of population). How strong is the desire there for an NHL team, does it bug Saskatchewanians that they don't have one, which NHL team(s) do most Saskatchewanians root for and how often is it possible to drive to one of those games?

Well, Bill Hunter almost brought us the Blues back in 1982-83 until the NHL Board of Governors voted it down. I was pretty young back then but remember all the hype about it. It was definitely a good thing it didn't happen. If Winnipeg and Quebec City couldn't survive the 90s, Saskatoon would have surely had the same fate.

There is definitely a desire for NHL hockey in Saskatchewan, but I believe that most Saskatchewanians are sensible enough to realize that it’s not happening. (Well, I did think the majority were sensible until this pandemic). We just don't have enough corporate sponsorships available to support an NHL franchise at this time. A lot of people argue that we support the most financially successful franchise in the CFL (the Saskatchewan Roughriders), and would do the same for the NHL. But I’m not convinced people would make the same three-hour drive 41 nights a year throughout the winter.  

As far as attending games go, I've been to the old Rexall Place in Edmonton, the Saddledome in Calgary and the old Winnipeg Arena. The drive ranges from five to eight hours to get to all three places. People around here maybe attend one game a year at the most. With the new arenas in Edmonton and Winnipeg, tickets are very hard to come by and super expensive, too. Edmonton is the closest to Saskatoon, and I would say most people here are Oilers fans. Down in Regina, you get a lot more Flames and Jets fans. The Heritage Classic a couple years ago at Mosaic Stadium in Regina between the Jets and Flames was actually a perfect setting. 

What is your favorite Coyotes memory and what details do you remember from it?

In February 2012, I was visiting my father where he was staying at the east end of Mesa at the time. There was a 7 p.m. Tuesday game against the Kings I was attending. Being a Phoenix rookie, I thought I would leave his place with an hour to spare, take the 60 to the I-10 and arrive on time. Knowing what I know now, I was lucky to only miss half the first period. I just got to my seat when the Kings scored their third goal, making it 3-0. After all the stress of the rush-hour drive, I was pretty deflated and thought it was all for nothing. But that 2012 team was special and found a way to claw back. Shane Doan was so dominant, so much fun to watch. The captain scored two. It went to the shootout, and I remember (Jonathan) Quick stopped (Radim) Vrbata and I thought we were in trouble,  but (Mikkel) Boedker would finish it seconds later. Very fun night.

Tell AZ Coyotes Insider readers more about your work history and why you love your current job so much? 

I am currently a grain farmer. I grew up on a family farm. I went to college for heavy duty mechanics and worked at a Caterpillar dealership for over 10 years. It was a great place to work but I had an opportunity to go back and farm in 2008 and I took it. My father has since passed on, but my son, Gage, who is now 25, and also a ticketed mechanic, currently works with me full time. I am lucky to have him and we work together quite well.

Being a farmer includes being the owner, GM, operator, laborer, mechanic, janitor, etc.. There are so many hats to wear. I think that's why I enjoy it so much. It just doesn't get monotonous. You never know which hat you will be putting on tomorrow. It also involves a lot of research and learning. I’m a big believer in diversification, so I’m always looking for different ideas and strategies to implement on our farm. Farming is a very competitive business these days, and the margins are razor thin, so you always have to be looking for ways to improve your operation.

Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter: @CraigSMorgan