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Monday Musings: Long-term thinking, short-term winning

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The Coyotes have a new owner and new plans to build the team for the future.

Jaime Eisner

It was a busy week for the Arizona Coyotes. The team introduced a new majority owner and won two of its three games. Despite the team's struggles this season, the buzz surrounding the team has picked up, as fans and management begin to look toward a bright future in 2015 and beyond with ownership drama out of the way, for now.

With the Arizona Cardinals' loss on Saturday, the Coyotes are at worst the No. 2 team in town from now until April. The team is beginning to improve on the ice, keeping some hope alive for a playoff run.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's take a look back at the week that was in Coyotes hockey:

- The introduction of new majority owner Andrew Barroway created several story lines. The biggest one surround the infamous out-clause. The opt-out is not going away. No business man in their right mind would willingly throw away their safety net on such a large investment in an asset with a shaky history at best. Barroway will not alter the lease agreement in any way upon his arrival.

- Unfortunately for the fans, it means another 3.5 years of wondering, both internally and externally through the international media. No one knows what the future will hold, but with expansion markets on the way and a lucrative arena management deal with the City of Glendale, it won't be as easy to leave after five years as many think.

- The other major theme out of Friday's press conference was the team's on-ice approach. Performing under expectations so far, many are hoping Barroway's financial backing will allow the Coyotes to spend like somewhat normal team. While future budget and financial planning will heat up in the offseason, one thing is clear -- they are building for long-term success, not a quick fix.

- What exactly does that mean? The Coyotes currently sit 11 points back of a playoff spot three games short of the halfway mark. The oddsmakers give Arizona a 0.2 percent chance to make the playoffs. It would take a prolonged point-streak to put the Coyotes anywhere near the playoff discussion and then they would still need to improve from there. Bringing in a player or two that would reasonably be on the trade market is likely not enough to make the playoffs.

- How long is long-term? If I had to guess, it's not as long as many think. With players like Mikkel Boedker, Tobias Rieder, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi, Henrik Samuelsson, Lucas Lessio, Michael Stone, Brandon Gormley, Connor Murphy, Brendan Perlini, Laurent Dauphin and others all 25 years old or younger next season, the rebuild will not be Edmontonian.

- The Coyotes have turned things around a bit as of late. Winners in four of their last five games, Arizona is beginning to look more like the team fans expected coming into the year. However, the Coyotes do have a pair of six-goal losses in the last two weeks as well. I would not be surprised to see the Coyotes play .500 hockey the rest of the way. But that will do little to help their already microscopic playoff chances.

- Mike Smith earned his first win since Dec. 1 on Saturday, stopping 23-of-26 shots in a 6-3 victory over Columbus. His numbers looked very good until allowing a late goal to Ryan Johansen. The Coyotes keep hoping to find a way to get Smith out of his funk -- maybe this is a start. Including Saturday's win, Smith had a sub-.900 save percentage in his last six appearances.

- Lucas Lessio was recalled on Monday, continuing the conga line from Portland. Lessio was second on the Pirates with nine goals and fifth on the team in points with 16. He is a speedy winger who is in every play, almost to his detriment at times. His play without the puck must have shown improvement in order to remain with the big club, but Lessio has future top-9 winger written all over him.