The Coyotes’ roller coaster ride of a season serves fans a mixed bag of highs and lows.
The one thing we can say about the Arizona Coyotes’ 2019-20 NHL season was that there was hardly a dull moment. Exasperating perhaps, or even bewildering at times, but not dull.
There were hopeful highs and dismal lows and just about every emotion experienced in between for Coyotes’ fans. The addition of forward Phil Kessel was supposed to be a blessing for a lethargic offense, but he really didn’t pan out, reportedly due to a nagging groin injury. The ‘Yotes then traded for Taylor Hall, an immediate upgrade for a subpar goal-scoring team and perhaps its MVP except for goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper.
As die hard Coyotes fans, we establish relationships with the players and want them to succeed. We hope that each season will be the most fruitful and promising of all for them and for our Desert Dogs, and we rally together when the rest of the NHL hockey world’s “experts” bad mouth the team that we follow and support so religiously.
I, for one, haven’t had the luxury to sit back and enjoy a Coyotes game from start to finish. I’m often on the edge of my seat at GRA or at home wondering if the team is going to survive an early-game onslaught from the opposition while the ‘Yotes sleep walk through the first 10 minutes. Other fans might “choose” to bite their nails, tap their feet, or shake their legs in nervous anticipation of what happens next.
When the Coyotes have scored throughout the season, I wondered how long they could keep that precarious lead because the ice would inevitably slant in favor of the opposition, resulting in Darcy Kuemper, Annti Raanta, or Adin Hill having to stand on their heads to keep the ‘Yotes in the game.
The Coyotes power play has never been a thing of beauty, and I remember facetiously wondering at times if they could decline the penalty to avoid giving up a short-handed goal. At the very least, couldn’t they emulate the power play success of other teams and just copy that?
So what can we, or dare we, expect or hope for in 2020/21? Even if the Coyotes are able to sign Taylor Hall, if he’s still surrounded by the same players, won’t the results be the same? We all have our favorite players and would hate to see them go, but decisions will have to be made by the organization to improve the roster and thus the chances of a playoff-bound Arizona Coyotes’ team next year.
Final thought: As I watched the Coyotes get bombarded in the third period of Game 3 by the Avalanche, it was crystal clear that the ‘Yotes need wholesale changes on their next roster. I’ve never felt so proud of and yet sorry for Darcy Kuemper all season!