Arizona Coyotes are Focused on the Big Picture, Fans Should as Well.

Arizona would welcome Auston Matthews with open arms. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Arizona would welcome Auston Matthews with open arms. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

After a few days into the new NHL season the Arizona Coyotes and their fans should understand two things. One, the roster is going to be very green. That’s fine, I feel like this has been the theme since the front office came out with “hockey the hard way”.

They weren’t joking.

The other is the first two months of the season is going to be brutal. The team plays 4 home games the first month and a half of the season. You did not read this wrong, 4 home games.


The first is by choice while the later is proof that someone is out to get us (joking).

The team is in the middle of a rebuild so the roster “expectations” should be harnessed. I am OK with that. Players like Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz thrived in this new “hey you guys are the entire offense, do your thing” system. I am joking about that, the team does have systems in place, that work. The team worked their tails off this past season but given the chance to be a little more selfish with the puck (not looking to pass as much) Keller and Schmaltz had a coming out party.

The league needs to take notice, these two are stars.

As you saw last year and after the first few days of free agency, the remaining roster will be filled out with youngsters, a few has-beens, and a few guys who could be solid, but haven’t had the chance to prove that until now. Sans Jakob Chychrun, Shayne Gostisbehere, and newly aquired Nick Bjugstad, the team should have a lot of youth.

I will add that this team will not be fun to play against. The team already was a lot tougher than most (I guess things that live in the desert have to be) and will no doubt stick to that plan as we head into next season. We have the size and toughness to remind any team that plays us that we are going to let them know we are there.

Yes, that was a minor Paul Newman reference.

The four home games in a month and a half will be the test and barometer for the team’s success this season. I think that it goes without saying that most fans are not holding their breath in hopes that the team will makes the playoffs. Anything is possible, but I think that a snowball would have a better chance at surviving a day on Camelback Mountain then the teams does making the playoffs.

The brutal schedule is not some conspiracy. Though some folks around the league seem to think that if they just keep losing they will end up in Quebec City or Houston. This is not going to happen. Ever. If the league wanted the Coyotes to move they would have by now. Commissioner Gary Bettman’s legacy is tied to making hockey in the desert work. Plus, the Phoenix metro area is the fifth-largest in the United States. The NHL is not going to leave this for Houston or Quebec City.

Think TV dollars.

The team is also heading in the right direction. If you look down the road at the big picture, things are starting to come together, possibly in ways that no Coyotes fan can imagine.

The last two drafts have been solid, they have found some unexpected players that could be stars (Dysin Mayo, Karel Vejmelka) and let us not forget what happens in two seasons. Just around the time that the Coyotes begin to turn things around and are a threat in the Western Conference, the team will have a new state of the art stadium and Auston Matthews’ contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will expire.

He will be an unrestricted free agent.

If you look at this from a “stars aligning” perspective, this all makes too much sense.

If (or should I say “when”) Matthews returns home to Scottsdale, do not be surprised if he brings a few of his friends with him. By that time the team will be one of the teams looking for that missing piece to push them over the top, and will be playing at a new stadium. That should have Matthews wanting to come home even more.

If reading this makes you think that I am crazy, ask yourself this; how many people actually saw Johnny Gaudreau leaving the Calgary Flames and an extra $15 million on the table for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I’ll wait.

Looking at the Arizona State Sun Devils hockey schedule helps make some sense of a few things schedule related. The new multi-purpose facility at ASU is scheduled to be ready in October. This gives the team a little more time for their new digs to be ready. The Coyotes’ first game is October 13th at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Sun Devils have home games from October 14th-November 12th, just about the time that the Coyotes will be right in the middle of their schedule hell. The only break for the ‘Yotes comes on October 28th when they have their home opener against the Winnipeg Jets and start a 4-game home stand. This lines up nicely for the Sun Devils as they will in Las Vegas at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

If the team can gel together (usually road trips do that for teams) and they survive the tough start to the season, they could take huge steps forward as a team. The majority of the remaining schedule features a lot of home games. I personally would rather get the most difficult part out of the way first.

Things are heading in the right direction. Focus on the big picture, and enjoy the process along the way. This is going to be a fun season.

Happy Howlin’!