Good afternoon, Coyotes Fans. Welcome to the first roundtable of 2011. Today we deal with growing concerns about the Coyotes and about the future of the NHL's Winter Classic. Don't forget to use the comments section to agree or disagree with the FFH staff's answers.
In an interview with the Arizona Republic's Jim Gintonio this past week, Coyotes GM Don Maloney stated, "We're getting to that point where it's either start putting up or there'll be other people here to do the job for us." When do you think that point gets reached?
Jordan: Not yet, certainly. The entire Western Conference is all bunched up and one good stretch of games will move us from the apparent basement of the Pacific into the 4 slot, and I think everyone in the organization understands that. That being said, there are guys that should be getting pushed from the rookies and young players coming up from San Antonio that need to start performing - Vrbata, Stempniak, Wolski, D-Mo. If the team hasn't started to put together a solid stretch by the end of this month, it's going to be time to start considering which of these guys are not a part of the future plans for the Coyotes.
Carl: I believe the point comes at the end of this coming weekend. At that point the season will be half over. The issues with this team: scoring, consistency, and defense have become clear. The coaches and the players have discussed them publically. Either the coaches/players take care of the issues soon or GMDM is going to be forced to make a move. As a matter of fact, if rumors out of Toronto are true GMDM may have already tried to pull the trigger on a trade.
Travis: I think we're just about there. The team just doesn't have the effort they seemed to last season. Especially from the blueline. The buy-in and effort just doesn't seem to be the same. Now how much we want to deal is going to depend on what the pricetag would be. Offers for Turris-Boedker-Maclean should be laughed at. We don't have many forward prospects that look ready beyond them soon. On defense prospects we have, but no one quite ready yet. If jettisoning a bad apple or two can turn the room around that would be great.
With injured players Taylor Pyatt, Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal all returning from injury, Mikkel Boedker returned to the press box, and Brett MacLean being reassigned to San Antonio, the BMT line only played a single game together for the Coyotes. Do you think that the young players should be getting a more substantial opportunity to earn a spot on this team?
Jordan: I was disappointed that we've only seen limited amounts of Boedker in his time up and MacLean was gone before he even unpacked despite that line being easily the best on the ice throughout the Kings game. I know Tippett has his favorites and a guy like Pyatt has played better at times this year than I thought he would, but he doesn't have the offensive skills of guys like Boedker or MacLean, and with the Coyotes being fairly offensively-challenged, it would be nice to see a bit more of these young guns.
Carl: Definitely. Tippett seems to believe in playing veterans over young guys to a fault. He isn't the first coach to do so. It is natural to trust veteran guys over younger guys because older guys are known quantities. However, I believe most successful teams need a mixture of both. Certainly you want more vets than youngsters, but young guys bring a passion and energy that can actually push older players. Given the Coyotes dearth of consistent scoring and energy giving the BMT guys more time makes sense. Plus, it pushes vets to perform.
Travis: Well no one else looks like they really want to fight for a spot so why not? A couple goals in the one game they saw action together wasn't enough apparently. I do know that this is a trend for Dave Tippett. He doesn't like playing young guys for whatever reason. That's great, but when you have somewhat more "veteran" players that just aren't showing up on a consistant basis a message that their jobs aren't safe needs to be sent. Maybe it was a little when MacLean was brought up and scored on his first shot. It also opens up the possibility to trade away a guy and bring him back up to play. Give the kids the chance if they're ready, just don't force it like Gretzky did.
This past weekend's, the NHL's Winter Classic was played in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. What venue would you like to see host the Winter Classic next? What two teams would you like to see participate?
Jordan: My dream match-up remains the Flyers and Penguins at Penn State's football stadium that seats approximately 100,000 - that would be a fabulous environment, but the Penguins shouldn't be seeing another Winter Classic for at least 4 or 5 years, not that they won't be back in a year or two regardless. I think an original six match-up between the Rangers and Canadiens or Maple Leafs would be a terrific game and there are a few possible venues in the New York area - Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, New Meadowlands...all would work, I think and that would be fantastic. Also, having a non-traditional market involved would be a good choice - maybe a battle of LA with the Kings and Ducks? With the weather from this year, I can't imagine trying to have a game in LA would be much different.
Carl: I believe it is time to put the classic in the New York/New Jersey area. I think Yankee Stadium or the New Meadowlands would be best. Based on comments from numerous media members who have attended the Classics over the last half decade comparing the sight lines at the Classics, I believe the New Meadowlands would be best. The Rangers would be the best choice of teams from the tri-state area. The Isles and Devils fanbases are much smaller and the teams themselves are less desirable right now. I believe Sean Leahy's Puck Daddy article yesterday comes up with the best matchup. Rangers vs the Kings. It's New York vs. L.A. The teams come from the two biggest media markets in the country. The Kings are an up and coming team with lots of young players who are enjoyable to watch. The game would expose more people throughout the country to them including people in Southern California.
Travis: I think the game should really go off the board. As I've said before I like having the storyline of the place the game is being held. There was talk of somehow building a temporary venue on the National mall for the caps, but I'd go elsewhere with the same concept. What if they were able to do a similar thing but in Central Park with the Rangers hosting it? They're the only on the American Original 6 team not to be in one so far and you could match them up against the Maple Leafs if you want. That way Damien Cox can shut up. That matchup may not be all that great, but I'd love to see teams not in one of the previous 4 games in it this time around. And please no more Penguins.