While 2013 was a tough year, the combo of GM Don Maloney and head coach Dave Tippett have managed to make the Phoenix Coyotes competitive despite an array of off-the-ice headaches. It appears that notion hasn’t been lost on IceArizona, the team’s new ownership group.
Tuesday represents the official press conference, yet the group rolled out their vision for the team that boasts some key changes – and some important similarities – for the Coyotes’ future.
Putting the team together
Principle owner George Gosbee told Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan that the team expects a budget increase in each of the next four seasons. Tippett seems pleased with that development, although he warned that the team must use that influx of cash wisely (or else they might become “shackled” by bad decisions).
While the money is likely to change, the people spending it stays the same, as the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that the ownership group raved about Maloney and Tippett.
Not too surprisingly, more money doesn’t mean that the Coyotes will rank among the NHL’s biggest spenders; the group stated that they won’t spend to the cap.
Promoting the team
The Phoenix Coyotes will eventually become the Arizona Coyotes, although that reportedly won’t happen any sooner than 2014-15. Alternate governor Anthony LeBlanc seems excited about beefing up the team’s staff outside of hockey operations, although those tweaks might take some time.
“This has been an operation that has been running on a skeleton crew for years,” LeBlanc said.
Keeping the team
IceArizona is saying all the right things, yet they didn’t totally deny the threat of the five-year out clause, either.
Still, improving the team’s marketing – and possibly the group of players on the ice – might pave the way for the Coyotes to find their niche.
If nothing else, the commentary seems pretty celebratory, as the Coyotes can finally focus their attention on seeking on-ice triumphs more than anything else.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.