So it has been quite a while since that miserable night of April 20, 2011 when the Coyotes were knocked out of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings. But only 23 days till the Coyotes can start fresh, and use last years playoff disappointment as motivation for greatness. It is a new cast of characters, and it will take time to get used to many of them. But that will be part of the excitement early on in the 2011-12 season. But for now, we all need to patiently wait and get through these next 23 days. Here are a few thoughts to help you build the excitement for the season.
– Which veteran will don the “A” that is now vacant from Vernon Fiddler’s departure? In the past Adrian Aucoin, and Derek Morris have worn the “A” and are very capable of doing so this season. I think a dark horse will be Ray Whitney for the honor.
– How will Mike Smith react to a real chance at an NHL starting goaltender position? Is this his last chance at it? I think he has a great attitude, and the athletic build to fit the Coyotes style. The familiar system, and overall defensive style of the Coyotes for the last two seasons will go a long way for Smith. The real challenge will be playing the amount of games required by a legitimate starting goaltender.
– Will the ownership issue be resolved shortly? This has not been a positive topic, but could be a real added bonus during the season in the case it is resolved positively. The talk from the NHL executives has been encouraging and December may be a very big month for the Phoenix Coyotes.
– After all the banter between the Winnipeg press and the Arizona press, the teams can finally settle it on the ice once and for all. Opening night is always special, but this match up between the Winnipeg Jets and the Phoenix Coyotes is an added bonus. It will be the beginning of a new rivalry.
– Does Kyle Turris sign or get traded? The Coyotes have a ton of flexibility without Turris, but also a big hole in the depth chart. It would be best for both parties to settle and grow together. But if this cannot be settled, the Coyotes can choose a center from the trade block once NHL camps break for the season.
– Can the captain build off of a solid offensive season and take it to another level? There is no doubt in my mind Shane Doan has the drive and skill to improve on last year’s numbers. The power play will benefit greatly from having him and Keith Yandle at the power play points all year long.