It's officially two days until the Coyotes begin their quest for a return to the playoffs in 2013 with the preseason opener(s) against the Kings on Sunday night. With that in mind, it's time to continue the countdown of the greatest sweater numbers in Coyote franchise history. For those who haven't followed along, the other entries can by found in fanposts and some early ones were in the comments sections of earlier Phoenix Coyotes Preseason Countdown entries.
In the history of the franchise, the number 3 has been worn by some of the game's bigger villains including Bryan Marchment, who got his NHL career started in the 3 for the Winnipeg Jets from 1989 through 1991, and Dave Manson, who wore 3 for the Jets in the '94 and '95 seasons. Then you have the two Keiths. Keith Carney was, at one point, the best Coyote to wear the number 3, doing so from 1998 through 2001. But then the Coyotes would spend the 105th pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft on the greatest number 3 in Coyote history, Keith Yandle. For a better idea of why Yandle is the best, check out yesterday's Coyote Preseason Countdown.
For the number 2, there are a couple of honorable mentions such as Moe Mantha, Todd Simpson and Keith Ballard, but the greatest number 2 in team history is Dave Ellett. Ellett was a 4th round pick (just like Yandle, the first of many similarities) in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. He would join the Jets in the 1984-85 season and play in all 80 games, scoring 11 goals with 27 assists and 38 total points. Ellett would only get better from there; during the 1988-89 season, Ellett would set the team record for goals scored by a defenseman with 22, a total only beaten by NHL great Phil Housley. In his Winnipeg career, Ellett scored 95 goals with 204 assists for 299 points in 475 games.
The fascinating thing about these two players, and the reason that I chose to put them together in one entry, is how closely Keith Yandle's career is mirroring that of Dave Ellett's. The both of them being 4th round draft picks is just the beginning. Take a look at the best total point season that each player has recorded:
- Dave Ellett - 1987-88: 68 GP, 13 G, 45 A, 58 P
- Keith Yandle - 2010-11: 82 GP, 11 G, 48 A, 59P
Very close, but even odder is the fact that both of these seasons were that player's 4th full year in the NHL. The similarities continue when you look at both player's playoff stats with the franchise. Ellett played in 33 games in 5 different postseasons, scoring 4 goals, adding 16 assists for 20 points. Yandle has scored 3 goals with 16 assists for 19 points in 27 playoff games over 3 seasons.
One last similarity I'm going to leave you with revolves around the total picture of both players career. Here are the total numbers for Ellett in his career and Yandle's current career numbers:
- Dave Ellett (Career): 1129 GP, 153 G, 415 A, 568 P
- Keith Yandle (Career): 413 GP, 53 G, 164 A, 217P
Why show you that? So that you can understand the following "per game" breakdown:
- Dave Ellett (Career): .14 G/g, .37 A/g, .50 P/g
- Keith Yandle (Career): .13 G/g, .40A/g, .53 P/g
That's eerie. Remember, the 80's was a high-scoring period back in the time where goalies were not exactly comparable to the current generation of athletes between the pipes. So Ellett's Jets numbers are slightly inflated, but Yandle still compares favorably to them. Yandle even begins to outpace Ellett's career numbers, but that's with Ellett's last few years when his stats began to drop precipitously. If Yandle can match the consistency of Ellett's career (especially his first 14 seasons) with any kind of longevity as a Coyote, he should easily become the franchise's all-time leader in points for a defenseman.
They say that those who don't know their own history are doomed to repeat it. In the case of the greatest numbers 2 and 3 in franchise history, I don't think that's such a bad thing.