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From the editor's desk: outdoor dreaming

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Could an outdoor game come to Arizona in the near future?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Stadium Series is an amazing showcase for the game.

I had the distinct pleasure of attending last weekend's game in Santa Clara between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. The atmosphere was incredible, the venue was fantastic, and the game itself was quite entertaining.

It isn't hard to see why pretty much every NHL team wants to host an outdoor game in the near future; for all of the talk about oversaturating the product, outdoor games are as popular as ever with local fans. The announced attendance at Saturday's game was 70,205, and of that I would guess at least 85% were Sharks fans. It remains a marquee event for the city lucky enough to host it. Will that be Arizona soon?

Thoughts

  • The logistics of physically hosting a Stadium Series game work out well for Arizona; temperature at puck drop was just under 60 degrees, which is more than within Arizona's temperature range this time of year.
  • Whether or not there's enough interest in Arizona to support a game is still an open question. Attendance issues aside, it may take a big draw opponent to get a place like Chase Field (which has the smallest capacity of any Phoenix area venue at 48,633) to make it work. The Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings seem like suitable opponents.
  • The visual of tens of thousands of opposing fans in the stadium is also one the league would prefer to avoid. A major theme of the San Jose game was the growth of Northern California hockey. A majority Chicago crowd would not look good for the Coyotes organization or the NHL.
  • Still, I think it's more of a realistic possibility than others do. If the Super Bowl and BCS Championship games are any example, Arizona loves a spectacle. People who aren't nominally hockey fans might be persuaded to go to this one out of sheer novelty and a more East Valley friendly venue.
  • Switching gears to the current Coyotes, Antoine Vermette is absolutely killing his own trade value right now. Three goals and seven assists in 22 games is not at all what prospective teams want to see when exploring whether or not Vermette is the depth center they need to contend.
  • I still think Maloney deals him, but the longer he waits, the worse his likely return is going to be. It would be better to get something for Vermette as opposed to nothing.
  • Zbynek Michalek's injury situation complicates his trade picture too. If the injury is serious, it likely cools the market quite a bit. If it isn't, maybe Maloney gets a pick out of dealing him.
  • The upside for Arizona is that even if their deals fall flat, they remain in a good position to rebuild the team. They still have their high end draft picks, and they have very few deals that will hamper their ability to bring up youngsters. The Coyotes are likely as well positioned as possible to make a rebuild happen.

Storylines

  • Will Mike McKenna get a second chance? Arizona has three games in four nights in the New York area. It would seem like a good place to play McKenna again after the shellacking he got against Colorado, but given the travel schedule is lighter than a typical back-to-back, there's no guarantee Tippett goes to him.
  • Who stays? Who goes? If the big names get shipped out, it probably happens this week. There may be some minor deals made on Deadline Day depending on how many teams are looking to buy. There could be a lot of them.
  • Who gets plugged in? If possible trades do occur, the Coyotes will need people to fill top line minutes. Who will those players be? Tobias Rieder? Michael Stone?

Player to Watch

Mike Arcobello has three goals in four appearances with Arizona. He's the hottest player the team has, and couple be the default #2 center if both Vermette and Hanzal are not in Sedona Red for the rest of the year.