It has not been a fun week for fans of the Arizona Coyotes. The team continues to lose at home, as their streak has reached seven games, and ownership controversy has made its way back into the news. It's the worst of both worlds for Coyotes fans who had just begun to push ownership stories to the back burner before the season began.
On the ice, the Coyotes are lost in a whirlwind of physical and mental mistakes that are sure to doom their season should things not rapidly turn around. Talent is an issue, mental toughness is an issue and played a solid, fundamental game is an issue.
There's plenty to delve into on and off the ice, so here are some thoughts and observations from the week that was in Coyotes hockey:
- It's hard to start anywhere other than ownership, so let's get right into it. Do I believe there is a chance the Andrew Barroway deal could end or be hindered by the loss of potential relocation markets, as has been reported? Yes. Do I believe the deal is dead? No. These deals take time and until Gary Bettman or the BoG report otherwise, there's no reason to believe any potential issues cannot be resolved.
- For a team like Arizona that only has a 180 day window to opt out of their lease agreement at Gila River Arena, having nowhere to go makes the clause relatively useless. So if Barroway wants or has to move the team after five years, he needs somewhere to go to. That's why expansion could derail the deal with IceArizona.
- I think it's important to note that even if the Barroway deal falls through, the Coyotes still have owners. This is not like past instances where Coyotes-land would be thrown into chaos upon the death of a deal circa the Matthew Hulsizer/Greg Jamison days.
- As far as the shedding salary portion of the New York Post report goes, I've yet to see any evidence to suggest that is in the immediate works. Moving Rob Klinkhammer in favor of a call-up does not save enough money to be evidence of a salary dump. Should players like Antoine Vermette or Martin Erat be moved, that likely has more to do with pending UFA status on a team not in the playoff picture.
- I like that the Coyotes are giving a few different players a brief NHL trial to see how they perform at the highest level while allowing the players to earn an NHL game check in the process. It is always a good thing to reward those playing well in your system. The team's search for the right combination of 23 has allowed them to experiment more than usual, but probably more than they would like.
- From purely an on-ice standpoint, the Coyotes have a successful history of giving players a one or two game trial at the NHL level before sending them back down. This allows players to get the "first NHL game jitters" out and gives them some familiarity with how coach Dave Tippett wants them to play.
- Arizona's issues are so widespread it is unfair to pin the majority, or even the plurality, of them on any individual. Players that have played in this system for years have suddenly abandoned it as desperation sets in and are pulling the team further down in the process. It's like a Chinese finger trap -- the harder the Coyotes pull (or grip their sticks) the more they are stuck in a quagmire of mistakes and losses.
- Piling up losses is bad; piling them up at home is worse. The Coyotes have a hard enough time getting people into the building already, having people leave wondering why they even showed up in the first place is a recipe for failure.
- While there is plenty of time remaining in the season, the Coyotes bottoming out (even if they don't get a top 2 pick), may be a good thing in the long run. Management will be forced to give a good, hard look at the team's roster construction and see where they went wrong. I've said this on a previous edition of MMM: while fun, the run to the WCF gave the team a false sense of how close they were to being Cup contenders. However, Arizona has a handful of quality prospects in their coffer -- the future is bright.