The Phoenix Coyotes under Dave Tippett have always been a team of unity. The players thrive on being counted on night in and night out, whether it is the first or fourth line. The “locker room presence” has been strong for the last two plus seasons. Dave Tippett preaches the pack mentality. There is something special about having a group of players and staff on the same page, and battling for each other. This defines the Phoenix Coyotes. The team has won and lost together, and done so with no complaints. The ownership troubles still linger, but the players and coaches continue to block it out and produce.
One former Coyotes player left the pack, and maybe too early from the effort side of things. Ilya Bryzgalov was the back bone of the Phoenix Coyotes team. He backed up his teammates and picked them up on bad nights. The organization gave Bryzgalov a chance to fulfill his dream of being a number one goalie. Even after a slow start with the team, the Coyotes stuck with Bryzgalov and allowed him to become an elite net minder. His thank you was to force managements hand, and later his rights were traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. In Philadelphia he found the one thing important to him, money. Much pressure will be on Bryzgalov in a city that is not so forgiving when failure occurs on the ice. While Bryzgalov starts a new career, the same pack of Coyotes continue to battle and succeed as a unit.
Tonight the pack and Bryzgalov face off in a rare meeting between the Coyotes and Flyers in Philadelphia. Which Bryzgalov will show up? The Bryzgalov that thrived with the Coyotes in the regular season or the Bryzgalov that had one foot out the door. We all would love to swim in the money like Uncle Scrooge in Ducktales, but class and honor is what matters at the end of the day.