On The Couch With Craig: Joe Hacker

Joe is the ninth AZ Coyotes Insider founding member to be featured

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Joe Hacker’s stepfather introduced him to the sport of hockey when he was 10 years old.

“I was never good enough to join any semi-competitive leagues but played recreationally up until I moved out of Illinois,” he said.

While Hacker’s playing career never went anywhere, his Coyotes fandom arose from, of all things, his attempts to impress a girl in high school. That relationship never went anywhere either, but his fandom has endured.

Joe is the ninth founding member to be featured in my On The Couch With Craig segment. He has a passion for caregiving, with people and with animals, and now he has the floor.

Full name: Joe Hacker

Twitter account: Deleted so that my hot takes don’t get me in trouble.

Birthplace: Chicago

Current city of residence: Phoenix

Arizona history: I moved here in August after graduating college.

Age: 23

Occupation: Registered nurse

Hobbies: Longboarding, reading, video games 

Little known fact about you: I can’t eat Italian sausage without gagging because I ate it once when I was sick and threw up. 

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

It’s kind of a funny story. My uncle lived in Chandler when I was a kid, so we must have gone to a Coyotes game and bought a hat when visiting him. Our high school had a “wear your hat to school day” so l picked my Coyotes hat because it looked cool. This girl who was really into hockey saw it and thought it was so cool that I was a Coyotes fan, and she started asking me about them. I knew enough about them to get by since I watched a lot of Blackhawks games, but I leaned into it super hard and did some research so I could keep talking to this girl. I only ended up talking to her for about a month but by that point I was actually becoming a Coyotes fan. Nine years later, I still follow the team. 

When I lived in Illinois, I would try to watch them whenever they played at the United Center, and follow the season with NHL.TV. Funny enough, it’s become more difficult to watch them on TV since moving to Phoenix due to blackout restrictions and Bally Sports AZ only being carried by a few providers. 

What is/are your favorite Coyotes memory/memories and what details do you remember from it/them?

Initially, I wanted to say that my favorite memory is a tie between the time Shane Doan scored a shootout goal with a broken stick or when Mike Smith scored a goal against Detroit, but upon further reflection, it’s actually the time Mikkel Boedker scored an overtime winner off an absolutely horrendous drop pass by Ryan Getzlaf in Anaheim. I still replay that goal whenever I need a laugh or I am bored. It definitely stood out because that is the sort of thing that usually happens to the Coyotes. 

A lot of my subscribers are animal lovers, but you have taken it to another level. Can you tell us about your past work with animals, hopes for the future, and do you have any pets?

Sure! When I used to live in Illinois, I volunteered at our county’s wildlife rehabilitation center. We took in wild animals that were injured or orphaned, provided treatment, and released them back into the wild once they had recovered. The most interesting animals that I dealt with were owls and foxes. Owls are a lot more terrifying up close than you would think, and foxes smell awful but are definitely smart.

My favorite assignment was to clean the raccoon enclosure. During the summer, all of the orphaned raccoons would get moved to this giant cage where they could all socialize and be outside. We weren’t supposed to interact with them if they came up to us (to avoid imprinting, where wild animals become accustomed to human behavior and lose their natural aversion to humans), but I would definitely wait a little bit longer than I needed to shoo them away because they were so cute. 

I’m hoping to find something similar here in Phoenix now that COVID restrictions are becoming more relaxed, or maybe a parrot rescue. 

As for pets, I have two parakeets named Green Bird and White Bird. I tried a few different names that didn’t stick, so I went with those. White Bird is definitely the leader of the flock because Green Bird is scared of everything. The last time I got them a new toy, Green Bird wouldn’t go to that side of the cage for two days. White Bird is the opposite; he’s a little too curious. He’s gotten himself stuck in the bird seed containers a few times, and tried taking a bath in my cup of water last week. 

Sometimes I take them for walks in their wagon. They seem to enjoy those. They think that they’re giant raptors or something because they squawk at birds two times their size like pigeons or quails, but in reality they only weigh an ounce. 

Tell AZ Coyotes Insider readers more about your work, past and present, and what you hope to do in the future.

I currently work at HonorHealth Thompson Peak as a telemetry nurse. I started working at a nursing home when I first graduated nursing school, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do with my career so I applied elsewhere. I got hired at HonorHealth in December and I am liking it much better. There are so many learning opportunities that it doesn’t even seem like work sometimes. The patients that I typically take care of are people who come in with arrhythmias, are recovering from cardiac procedures, or have significant cardiac issues but are admitted to the hospital for unrelated reasons. 

My job has gotten significantly better since COVID cases have dropped in the Valley. At one point, over half of the beds on our floor were COVID patients and now I haven’t seen a COVID case for at least a month. While it is annoying needing to gown up and wear respirators, the toughest part was the lack of human contact for the patients. It broke my heart seeing the way some of these people were suffering for weeks at a time, unable to be hugged or feel the hand of another human to comfort them.

While I enjoy being a nurse, I am aspiring to become a doctor. I’m starting prerequisite courses for medical school this fall, and I would like to attend the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Phoenix. Ultimately I would like to do hematology/oncology, pathology, critical care, or internal medicine, but it’s difficult to narrow down without experiencing it myself. I’m leaning towards hematology/oncology because of the relationships that you form with your patients. One thing that I don’t like about inpatient nursing is that you have no idea what happens to the patients once they leave unless they get readmitted because they are still having issues. 

How does your Coyotes fandom play in a family of mostly Blackhawks fans, and do you ever bring up the 2012 playoff series between the teams?

It usually doesn’t come up unless they’re playing each other, but you can bet that I get 15 texts from 15 different people if the Coyotes start losing against the Blackhawks. I get my fair share of ribbing because of the Coyotes’ comparative lack of success compared to the Blackhawks, but it’s all in good fun.

Whenever 2012 gets mentioned, my stepfather gets really fired up about “that cheating (expletive) Raffi Torres”, but besides him, the rest of my family doesn’t care too much anymore. Winning two Cups since then probably helps. 

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Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter: @CraigSMorgan