First, the shakers and moves of the Phoenix Coyotes asked for patience while the future sale and possible location of the franchise was settled.
Now, the movers and shakers of the Arizona Coyotes have asked for more patience.
As a result of both the number of deals the Coyotes made at the trading deadline this week and number of players who have essentially whipped through revolving doors between the Arizona’s AHL Portland Pirates affiliate and Phoenix, team officials are revealing a maturity time-line of several years.
After the significant trades of Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle, general manager Don Maloney gushed at the prospect of stock-piling draft picks and prospects. With four, first-round picks over the next two NHL drafts and watching the development of several still competing in Juniors, Maloney indicated the incubation period would be, as he indicated, “three, four, five years down the road and we’ll compete for a Stanley Cup.”
For a fan-base and market-place tired of waiting for anything meaningful to happen, the imposition of waiting nearly one-half decade for results could act to lose an important fan segment.
Not so, said Arizona coach Dave Tippett.
a quick turn-around
“I think we can turn it around quicker,” he said after the Coyotes dropped a 4-1 decision Tuesday night at home to the Anaheim Ducks. “We need to add a few more quality pieces, and we can have a different look. Different players have different time-lines to develop. Right now, it depends how quickly these young players can play at the NHL level.”
If first impressions mean anything, defenseman John Moore, acquired from the Rangers in the Yandle deal, shows promise. Strong with the puck, Tippett put Moore out on the power play early in the game. That’s when Ducks’ Nate Thompson was called for cross-checking at 13:10 of the opening period, and Moore jumped in at the right point to complement Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s normal position at the left point.
For the game, Moore had 20 minutes, 55 seconds of ice time and was paired with Connor Murphy at the blue line. Afterward, Tippett looked into the Coyotes’ crystal ball.
“(Moore’s) forte is moving the puck,” the coach said. “He handles the puck well but, at the same time, he has a great deal to learn. Like all of the new players, we look for him to grow and mature.”
Since arriving in the desert, Moore had only the morning skate prior to the Ducks game to assess his new surroundings.
“(Tippett) is a detail-oriented coach and looks like there’s a lot to learn,” he said. “For a new group of guys, we were fired up and ready to go. (Against the Ducks), I thought we played hard. Look, we’re all professionals, and we all want to win.”
Based on the current state of affair, that’s not happening.
The loss to Anaheim was the Coyotes’ 10th in a row and ties a Winnipeg/Phoenix/Arizona franchise record. The 10 losses in a row is also the most since the team moved from Winnipeg on July 1, 1996.
At this point, the Coyotes are hanging on to a life-preserver, and the quest for the remainder of the season seems to be Tippett’s ability to instill passion and confidence in his players.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, this team is a work in progress,” he said. “We try and get better every day and, one day we’ll say we’re there.”
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Mark Brown is a former sports editor for daily newspapers in the Philadelphia and Cincinnati markets. He was named Best Sports Columnist, honorable mention 2004 by the Associated Press Society of Ohio. He is a contributor to major daily newspapers, including the Chicago Sun Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Milwaukee Journal, Arizona Republic, Nashville Tennessean and the Associated Press. He was a Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and covered the Arizona Coyotes.