Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the East Valley Tribune,
After years of thinking it was only a few free agents away from the postseason, Phoenix has committed to a long- term rebuilding process to give it a solid corps of young players for years to come. Highly touted forwards Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal, both first-round picks, have already arrived. The pipeline to the future also includes forward Kyle Turris, the No. 3 overall selection this year, and two other prospects, defenseman Keith Yandle and forward Blake Wheeler, recently rated among the league’s top 50 prospects by The Hockey News.
New general manager Don Maloney admits the franchise’s change in philosophy will lead to some long nights this October and November, but he believes the team will be much better in February and March and that progression will carry over into next season and for many years after that.
from the Arizona Republic,
Two words this organization would like to forget, and with good reason: the worst record in the NHL’s Western Conference and the team’s poorest showing since moving to the Valley 11 seasons ago - 67 points (31-46-5), second fewest in the league.
“I definitely use it as a motivational tool,” defenseman Nick Boynton said. “We don’t want to harp on it, but, yeah, it’s embarrassing. You don’t want it to happen again. You’ve got to come out and prove it’s not going to be like that.”
But can things get better this time around?
From Jim Gintonio at the Arizona Republic,
And the opening night goalie for the Coyotes is…
“What do they call it in football? The spy game?” joked coach Wayne Gretzky. “It’s top secret. I’m not gonna decide until Wednesday. All three of them have played pretty hard, all three of them have been strong, all three of them really worked hard in practice each and every day. I know who we’re gonna start. I’m just gonna keep it close to the vest until Wednesday.”
The goalie trio: returning backup Mikael Tellqvist and two free agents, David Aebischer and Alex Auld.
from USA TODAY,
After the burden of playing in the shadow of retired goalie Patrick Roy on the Colorado Avalanche for almost two seasons and then enduring a rough year with the Montreal Canadiens, David Aebischer signed a free agent contract in July with the Coyotes, hoping to jump-start his career all over again.
The Coyotes’ goal: Make the playoffs, says Gretzky. Aebischer’s goal: Consistency in net.
The latter seems more likely than the former, but clean slates bring optimism before the first puck is dropped. “I know we have a lot of young guys,” says Aebischer. “But anything is possible.”
from the East Valley Tribune,
One Winnipeg Sun columnist gleefully reported no Valley media outlets bothered to follow the Coyotes to The Great White North, reminding readers that the AHL’s Manitoba Moose always have two Winnipeg beat writers shadowing the team….
So you’ll excuse the local fifth estate if they skip the 2,000-mile trip to see a practice game featuring a dozen future members of the San Antonio Rampage. Winnipeg is a minor league sports town, so minor sports get major coverage. No surprise there….
We’re keeping the team. Winning will breed interest. So get over it.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The question, needless to say, is how much failure can Gretzky stand, or withstand. He’s in only the second year of a five-year contract, but his buddy Mike Barnett was cashiered as general manager last season and the Coyotes ownership made it clear in hiring Maloney that they were avoiding any and all hockey people with direct ties to Gretzky.
Could he be fired if the Coyotes stink? Possible, but unlikely, particularly given that he still has an ownership stake in the team.
But it’s equally hard to imagine he’ll just hang in there if this season turns out to be utterly miserable. Perhaps there will be a resignation, or some other kind of face-saving way out.
GLENDALE, ARIZONA—- Phoenix Coyotes Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Bucek announced today that the Coyotes have launched their very own MySpace page. The Coyotes Official MySpace page will allow fans to communicate directly with the club as well as with other Coyotes fans across the country.
“The launch of the Coyotes Official MySpace page is just one part of our commitment to offer fans increased access across multiple interactive platforms,” said Bucek. “Social networking websites are the online starting point for our current and future fans in the younger demographic, so we felt it was extremely important to have a presence in that space.”
The Web page can be accessed at www.myspace.com/phoenixcoyoteshockeyclub and will provide inside information on Coyotes players and rising stars, as well as news on ticket offers and special events.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
There likely isn’t enough of an upgrade for the Coyotes to challenge for a playoff spot, and in some forecasts they are rated as contenders for 30th place overall. Gretzky is realistic about his team’s chances.
“Obviously, we’ve got an uphill climb,” Gretzky said. “We’re in a tough situation here. We’re an organization that’s gone the young route and we’re going to stay that course for now and see what happens.”
In the new NHL, you almost need a perfect storm in order to succeed — that your kids mature at a time when your veterans still have something left in the tank.
“Pittsburgh is a special case because they have the best player in [Sidney] Crosby, but look at Buffalo,” Gretzky said. “Buffalo turned around their franchise in three years. Because of the salary cap and salary structure, [a turnaround] can happen like that,” Gretzky said, snapping his fingers.
from the St. Catherines Standard,
The long-anticipated Wayne Gretzky wines are hitting LCBO shelves Monday, just in time for hockey season.
The classy labels bear the No. 99, a number the National Hockey League retired when Gretzky ended his career in April, 1999.
Gretzky admits he doesn’t know a whole lot about wine but “I can tell you if I like the taste of something or if I don’t like the taste of something,” he told Standard reporter Monique Beech in an exclusive interview.
from the Arizona Republic,
Mikael Tellqvist - who made a nice impression when he was acquired from Toronto for Tyson Nash and a 2007 draft choice in November - along with two free agents, David Aebischer (Montreal) and Alex Auld (Florida), likely have the best chance.
But with exhibition games starting Sunday, everyone will get a chance. That includes three others desperate to make their mark in the NHL: David LeNeveu, who played six games with Phoenix and 37 at San Antonio (AHL) last season; Josh Tordjman, who played for San Antonio and the Phoenix Roadrunners (ECHL) in 2006-07; and David McKee (Portland, AHL; Augusta, ECHL), in camp on a tryout contract.
“I think we’re really lucky this year,” Fuhr said. “We’ve got six guys we think that can play, so one through six, it’s no set order. I think it’s a . . . wide-open job.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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