I've said it once, I'll say it again: The Phoenix Coyotes are like the girl who only wants to be friends. She builds you up thinking there could be something more, but then crushes your dreams by dropping that bombshell onto you.
That seems to be the same way it's going this year for the Coyotes, which is the same way they did it last year, and years prior. The Coyotes are playing an insane brand of hockey, even with the issues that are going on off the ice. They don't have that one stud player, but a lot of unknown guys going out there and playing as a team and succeeding. It's the same script as last year, though. At that time, the Coyotes were something like 5th in the Western Conference, but when the calendar year turns; they seem to turn to crap.
It's not like this team is as horrible on the ice as people portray them. Sure, they've only had one over .500 season since the lockout, it's not like they've had the people who really wanted to come to their place in order to get to that next plateau. Before, free agents would go there because it's a nice place to play in the horrible winter months, which really distracted from playing to win. Even throughout their time in Phoenix, they have been a better than .500 team more often then not. Their craptasticness in the playoffs has been the real breaking point for the club. While they haven't made the playoffs since 2002, the team this year looks like they could be a force to be reckoned with. Granted, we thought the same thing this time last year and that went south, but there's a big change behind the bench that could put them over.
The fact remains that the hiring of Dave Tippett has been great for the Coyotes thus far, making people remember what it's like when the Coyotes had a true coach and not a great player masquerading as a head coach. While Gretzky brought some appeal and buzz to the Coyotes, the team really didn't gain much in terms of how to make it through the rough spots of the year, like how to get out of the slump. Should the Coyotes get into that condition this year, Tippett could be the guy used in order to get the youngster out of it without going into a complete tailspin to ruin a solid season thus far. This is where the experience would be needed, not only to lead a young, somewhat inexperienced team-- but to deal with the ebbs and flows of the hockey world. Should they get into the playoffs, Tippett has plenty of experience in the playoffs and should be able to lead the team if the time happens.
But they have to get to that point first. They are putting themselves in a good position, but they need to hope history doesn't repeat themselves. The organization is a tease when it comes to how far they can go, because they always look like they can make a big move in order to go to that next level, but are somehow stifled in every attempt. Maybe with some finality in their fate coming up on the horizon, the focus can be put on how the team can succeed on the ice rather than on the spreadsheet. It'd be nice if the game played on the ice for the Coyotes would matter rather than the game played in the boardroom-- but that's the business we live in now in sports. Here's hoping for the fans that the team can be successful, whether they show up or not.