The Phoenix Coyotes are coming off a 2009-2010 campaign where they were expected to fail. They did not have a head coach entering training camp, their owner filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy before the season and they had not made the postseason since 2002.
Enter Head Coach Dave Tippett, who went on to win the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year by leading the Coyotes to a 50-25-7 record (107 points), their best since moving from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996. It is easy to say that the Yotes exceeded expectations last season and now under control of the NHL need to repeat last year’s success and find someone to purchase the franchise.
The only way that is going to happen is if “Captain Coyote” Shane Doan contributes not only in the locker room but also on the scoreboard. Last season Doan scored 18 goals and added 37 assists. His 55 points last season was his lowest point production since his 2006-2007 season. After playing their first two regular season games in Prague against the Boston Bruins and then returning home to Jobing.Com arena to take on the Detroit Red Wings, Doan still had yet to register a point on the year and the Yotes were 1-1-1 because of it.
Asked if he was concerned or pressing early on the season Doan responded, “I have to find a way to at least contribute a little bit. Three games and no points is not going to cut it. I have to find a way to contribute.”
With the departure of center Matthew Lombardi (Nashville) and defensemen Zbynek Michalek (Pittsburgh) the Coyotes are counting on young players to step up and take on bigger roles this season. One of those being their first round draft pick from last season rookie Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Though only 19, Ekman-Larsson will be asked to step in and contribute right away and looks as though he will be giving an opportunity on the power play. Veteran 38- year old left winger Ray Whitney signed as a free agent in the off-season and should be a solid fit in Head Coach Dave Tippett’s system. Also the return of right-winger Scottie Upshall will be a major boost to the Coyotes offense. Upshall played in just 49 games last season due to a knee injury that forced him to cut the remainder of his season short.
Sunday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Doan registered his first two points of the season, getting assists on both of the Coyotes two goals in the game. Though they lost to the Ducks 3-2 “Captain Coyote” contributed. It will be imperative for him to carry this team not only with his leadership, but also with his point production for the Coyotes to return to the postseason.
About the Author
Written by Robb Patty