So, the Phoenix Coyotes are up 2-0 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Read that again. Crazy, right? There are lots of columns in every aspect of media that hype up a team as the least likely of underdogs or whatever and I’m going to do my best to not make this one of those columns. Mostly because their roster has very little to do with what makes them underdogs. While lacking a true scoring star, though one could make the argument for Ray Whitney, the team is solid all the way up and down the roster. They don’t do anything out of the ordinary, really, and they’re not exactly the most exciting team to watch in the world but when your leading scorer is also +26 you’re going to win some games.
Also, Mike Smith.
But what’s really remarkable about the Coyotes is a story that seems to have gotten lost in this crazy little run they’ve put together. Or, at least, it’s not one that I’ve heard talked about a lot and, as we have established, I’m a little slow on the uptake so maybe I just missed it. I’ve gone off the point again.
Underdogs, right. The reason that this team should be getting a lot more attention than they are is the fact that this team is still owned by the NHL. That’s just insane. What happens if they win the Cup? Who does Gary Bettman honour? Himself? Will we see some sort of weird, schizophrenic interview between Bettman and himself, standing beside the cup, surrounded by thousands of screaming fans? Actually, this sounds amazing. I think I just talked myself into rooting for the Coyotes.
The thing about the Coyotes being owned by the NHL is it makes me wonder if the team’s success is a testament to the NHL or General Manager Don Maloney. I think the credit lies somewhere between the two. Obviously, Maloney is making the moves and has built this roster in the five seasons he’s been in Phoenix, but the NHL deserves credit purely for staying the hell out of his way. Think about it, look at the New Orleans Hornets, another team owned by their governing league. The Hornets also have a general manager in place with Dell Demps and the NBA also claimed that Demps would be free to make the moves he wanted. This was true until the Chris Paul saga this last off-season where the NBA vetoed a possible trade that would send Paul to the Lakers claiming it was not in the best interest for the league. The logistics of this whole thing is another story for another blog (and I should stop getting basketball in our hockey here) but the point is, the league interfered with the team’s roster moves. Because they could.
The NHL has stayed out of Phoenix’s way, allowing them to shape their roster as they see fit. No, there were no blockbuster trades like the Paul deal but there was no interference in acquiring what would become key playoff pieces like Daymond Langkow or Mikkel Boedker (though maybe someone in the league office should have let them know that signing Justin Pogge was probably a bad call). The Coyotes and Maloney deserve all the credit for putting together a team that’s actually competitive, the NHL deserves all the credit for letting them do so.
Links To The Past
- Ever wonder why your favourite team didn’t make the playoffs? Well, wonder no more. (Down Goes Brown)
- An amnesty clause might actually work in the NHL. Anything to get rid of Mike Komisarek. (The Leafs Nation)
- Danny Briere is the most clutch player in the NHL. Discuss. Also, fun recaps of yesterday. (The Hockey News)
- Hey, look at that, the Flyers have idiot fucknugget fans too! That really shouldn’t come as a surprise. (Puck Daddy)
- Remember how excited Nashville was to get Alex Radulov in time for the playoffs? Yeah…that’s not going super well. (The Tennessean)
- At least Radulov isn’t getting Kovalchuk money. Should Kovalchuk should be getting Kovalchuk money? (The Star-Ledger)
- For everything good the Coyotes do, the Predators seem to be doing the opposite. (ESPN)
- The “fighting in minor hockey” debate is back. (The Globe and Mail)
- Yeah, I’d wear the face shield too. Ouch. Also, props to the NBC commentators for saying “he’s in some problem”. Keep up the good work, fellas.