Arizona Coyotes Out of Playoffs, Holding Auditions for 2021-22 Season Roster

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Arizona Coyotes players are winding their season down, but the organization continues to assess their grit, their character, and their on-ice performances.

The 5th place Arizona Coyotes hosted the first place Vegas Golden Knights Friday night and will again on Saturday night before a raucous crowd of Knights’ supporters at Gila River Arena. The teams have gone in opposite directions over the few years the VGK have existed, with Vegas being a successful expansion team and the Coyotes more like a 25-year train wreck (with a few memorable exceptions). But hope springs eternal for Yotes fans, and we will keep coming back for more.

It will be a game or two more before everyone finally realizes that the Desert Dogs were never really equipped with enough NHL-caliber players to ever be taken too seriously during the regular season. Hovering around, but mainly below, the “.500” winning percentage mark in the standings is a clue that your team is not always going to be fun to watch.

In occasionally trying to imagine myself in Rick Tocchet’s shoes throughout the season, I realized that he has probably handled more than his share of negativity for nearly 3 additional seasons, and has handled it pretty well professionally. Whether you’re a Tocchet fan or not, such substandard performance has to weigh negatively on any human under such circumstances. I’m fully prepared for the Coyotes to lose on Saturday night, but like other fans, I hope they win because we’re all invested emotionally in our team and always will be. The win on Friday was a wonderful reminder about what can happen when everyone pulls in the same direction, whether you’re part of a star-studded team or a bunch of prideful blue collar types playing for the love of the game.

In addition to the final scores, I hope that fans also pay attention to the final 5 games from the perspective of player tryouts for next season’s roster. Who plays like he gives a damn and who doesn’t? Who plays with heart, and exhibits pride and determination through his work ethic, and hustles because he cares? Everyone knows that there will be a host of changes on the roster, and know that the players’ performances in these last 6 games may help management decide who’s a “keeper” and who is most likely history.

I for one am excited about GM Bill Armstrong’s background, leadership, and ultimate involvement in next year’s team. I’m going to trust that he’s doing the right things for our long-neglected on-ice product. Let’s support him and give him the benefit of the doubt. None of us can predict how everything will pan out, but it sure as hell is going to be better than what John Shyster left behind for the organization to clean up. Let’s go Coyotes!