Doggie Treats: Is Arizona Taken Seriously?


Sep 22, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Philip Lane (65) scores a goal past Los Angeles Kings goalie Jeff Deslauriers (33) during the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

So I was asked to do a 30-in-15 piece on the Arizona Coyotes for another website, based off a staff-wide season predictions ranking. This blew. My. Mind:

"“14% of our voters expected the Coyotes to make the playoffs. 7% expect them to finish last in the NHL in 2014-2015.”"

Wait. Just stop.

I’ve really made it no secret that I’m a newcomer to the Arizona Coyotes franchise, and that I’m coming from an Original Six franchise. I grew up in a household as a part of a hockey legacy family- we make fun of family members who don’t like hockey, rather than the other way around. There are pictures of me from before the Arizona Coyotes were even in the desert, running around with a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey dragging down to my knees (if my cousin dressed me) or a Boston Bruins shirt stretched out of shape.

I’ve always had a certain affection for the Coyotes. If they win? I won’t be mad at all. They deserve it! Shane Doan is a nice guy.

It took me until I really came to the franchise, though, to realize exactly how underrated the desert dogs really are. They’ve got a system in place that they haven’t really messed with in a while- and, to be quite honest, it’s working for them well enough. Two seasons ago, the Coyotes almost made the Cup finals- and last year, the franchise was devastated by a 2-point differential that kept them out of playoff contention. I don’t think Edmonton fans have been able to say that for a while.

I think the Coyotes aren’t taken nearly seriously enough for a number of reasons, but a lot of it stems from how young the franchise is. I believe that if I had chosen to cover the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Nashville Predators, or even the Minnesota Wild, I would be noticing the same trend. It’s hard to get your franchise off the ground when you have to build a team from scratch, using only players that other teams don’t think are worthy enough to protect. That’s hard.

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  • If you look at some of the more established franchises, though, teams have gone far longer than the Coyotes’ eighteen-year lifespan without winning a Stanley Cup. Just look at the Boston Bruins- maybe I’m biased in using them as my example, but the franchise went well over thirty years without seeing the cup return home. And the Leafs? They’ve only made the playoffs once in the past decade.

    Yet, seven percent of a fifty-person-strong staff thought that the Coyotes, who have made the playoffs three times in the past five years alone (already tripling the number of post-season Leafs appearances, in half the time), would finish not only below the Maple Leafs- but behind everyone else, as well.

    The Coyotes have done something that a lot of other teams struggling to bring the Cup home haven’t- they’ve developed their youth core. I can say with almost complete certainty that if Max Domi had played in the NHL last year, he would have put up a respectable number of points. Would he have been a sixty-point scorer? No, that doesn’t seem likely. He would have undoubtedly had at least a minimal impact on the team, though- but that’s not the Coyotes way. They allow young players room to grow, and it’s probably going to pay off this season.

    I don’t think by any means that the Coyotes are looking to challenge Boston or Tampa Bay for the Stanley Cup in the finals this year. They’re up against an L.A. Kings roster so full of elite players it makes my head spin, an Anaheim that’s determined to give Dany Heatley a chance to hoist the Cup, and a Chicago that’s… well… The Chicago Blackhawks, all capital letters intended. That’s just looking at the usual suspects, too- no one can discredit how powerful the Colorado Avalanche are poised to be, and the Dallas Stars have been amassing an absolutely monstrous lineup.

    Still. Last in the league?

    We’ll see how they feel by mid-season.