The 2002-03 season was a mediocre one for the Arizona Coyotes. The team had ended the previous four years with 90+ points, and had made the playoffs in five out of the past six seasons since moving from Winnipeg. However, by the time the final whistle blew to end the 02-03 campaign, the Coyotes were not in the playoffs, a feeling that would become all too familiar over the next couple of seasons. Fans of the team can be excused if they don't remember what went on that season, it wasn't too memorable and it was more than a decade ago. However, a certain player from that team is the subject of today's countdown: Tony Amonte.
Arizona fans can be forgiven as well if they don't remember Tony Amonte playing in a Coyotes uniform. For one, he only played 59 games with the squad. He scored 36 points during his time with Arizona, before being traded midseason to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Guillaume Lefebvre and two draft picks. The players drafted turned out to be Tyler Redenbach and Logan Stephenson, neither of which had any significant impact. Amonte finished the season scoring at over a point per game pace for Philadelphia, granted it was only in 13 games.
Most hockey fans remember Amonte for his time on the Blackhawks, where he registered 268 goals and 571 points in 627 games. He was signed to a big money deal by Arizona during the summer of 2002 when he was a free agent at the age of 32. The right winger was not a great fit for the Coyotes, so when the Flyers made it known that they were looking for offensive help going into the playoffs, Arizona obliged and dealt Amonte to the City of Brotherly Love.
Amonte went on to play three more seasons in the NHL after his time in Arizona, finally retiring after the 2006-07 season as a member of the Calgary Flames. His 900 career points are good enough for 9th all-time amongst American born players.
Memories are not kind to us. They have a way of fogging up over time, leaving some details from blurry and others non-existent in one's brain. Plenty of hockey has been played since 2002-03, and the game has seen a bevy of players come and go. So let's take a trip down memory lane, and look back into what was going on around the league at the time Amonte was a Coyote.
- Peter Forsberg of the Colorado Avalanche was the scoring champion, as well as the NHL MVP. His teammate, Milan Hejduk, finished 4th in the scoring race.
- The Ottawa Senators won the Presidents' trophy.
- Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur won the Vezina trophy as the top goalie.
- Mike Johnson paced the Coyotes with 63 points and 23 goals.
- Ladislav Nagy had himself a career year, achieving a personal best 57 points and finishing with a +/- of 17.
- Brian Boucher, Sean Burke and Zach Bierk all received large amounts of playing time in net for Arizona. Bierk's playing time resulted a 2.17 GAA and .932 SV%, yet somehow got just 4 wins in 16 games
They say you learn something new every day. If nothing else, now you know about Tony Amonte and his brief time playing in Arizona. It may come in handy during an NHL trivia competition in the future with your buddies. You're welcome.