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Coyotes monthly mailbag: You asked, I tried to answer

Craig Morgan Avatar
April 22, 2022

I’d like to talk to you about mourning doves — more specifically, why nature hates them.

You might think that’s a crazy assertion. You’ll find mourning doves everywhere. They appear to be prospering. They even sit outside your window at 5 a.m. and sing that haunting song that reminds you that your work day is just beginning. And it’s Monday.

Here’s the truth: Mourning doves are slow and dumb. Bird enthusiasts will tell you that they are gentle and slow to startle. It’s a charming apology for their lack of survival instincts.

How many times have you had to slow to a near-complete stop in the road to avoid a shower of feathers flying for your car grille? If cars were predators, they would need no other food.

On that note, have you heard the sound that mourning doves make when they take off on their slow, awkward flight patterns? No, not the whistling of their wings that bird enthusiasts post on the web with far too much enthusiasm. And not the aforementioned cooing. I’m talking about that shriek that announces to all predators that they’re available: “Eat me!”

Given their slow, awkward flight pattern, the hunt is short. And given mourning doves’ portly bodies, the hunt is also sweet. It’s almost as if nature created mourning doves to be flying food for birds of prey and ground-based predators who can easily capture these “slow-to-startle” and slow-to-take-flight birds.

One last note: If you get the chance, check out a mourning dove’s nest. It’s little more than a handful of sticks laid haphazardly across each other with not enough bed and not enough height on the edges to keep the fledglings from splatting on the ground below. 

I think this is why mourning doves procreate so well. They have to, otherwise the species wouldn’t last a week.

Let’s get to your questions in the April edition of the PHNX Coyotes monthly mailbag.

Illustration by Bea Wyatt

From Discord

Other than Anton Strålman, I have a hard time seeing any of the current crop of UFAS returning. The Coyotes want to use those roster spots to take on more bloated contracts this summer with the costs being other teams’ draft assets.

As for the RFAs, I expect Lawson Crouse, Barrett Hayton and Christian Fischer all to re-sign. Maybe Cam Dineen. I doubt that Kyle Capobianco will be back.

Whether Scott Wedgewood returns will depend on what other offers he has, and that will depend on how he performs overt the remainder of the season and in the postseason. I think David Perron’s production (26 goals, 55 points so far) will make him far too pricey a free-agent option for the Coyotes. I also think that, given that production, he will have more attractive offers to join a contender (or even re-sign in St. Louis).

Nobody really knows. The remediation of the land is still an unknown until they really get in there and assess the situation. Construction timelines are generally fluid because they are influenced by so many variables.

The advantage that Arizona creates is that construction can go all year long (despite the summer heat). If the Coyotes can get this deal approved before the summer, perhaps the extra half year will allow them to finish the project after only three seasons played at ASU’s multi-purpose arena. We’ll see…

I have not really delved into every team’s situation that deeply. To me, this all comes down to the arena situation. If the Coyotes can get that approved soon, the future looks promising. Without that, however, I have no idea what the future holds for the Coyotes.

I highly doubt that Phil Kessel will return. He wanted to be traded all season long. Yes, he was a great teammate, but he also wanted to play for a contender. If Kessel doesn’t have any offers in free agency, perhaps he’ll come back to the desert but I find that hard to believe. He doesn’t want to finish his career on a rebuilding team. If he doesn’t get any offers, maybe he’ll just retire. Or maybe he’ll go play in Europe; some place with good golf courses.

No, because I knew the actual situation was far more nuanced than some in the national media portray it. Strålman is the perfect example.

I could go off on a rant about all the superficial narratives that exist, but I might as well spit into the wind. Reporting without sufficient research or understanding is here to stay.

I do not. I lost track of that info during the pandemic. I will try to find out again.

I love this idea. I will try to make it happen this offseason.

That’s a complex question that would require a lot of reporting first. It is pretty obvious that the Coyotes are trying to reach a new potential fan base and their efforts at inclusivity are laudable. I’d also note that bringing those communities into the fold is about more than simply getting them tickets to games. There are other ways to connect.

That said, some within league circles find these efforts disingenuous, given all of the off-ice issues that the franchise has had. They’d like them to get their house in order first.

I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I even think that one can help the other, but the efforts in under-served communities have to be authentic and genuine, not just an endless litany of marketing opportunities to improve the overall image of the franchise. There is a glaring need for ice sheets in these under-served communities. To me, that’s how you start a grassroots hockey movement. That is what teams in other NHL markets have done. Of course, that costs money and the pandemic has made spending far more challenging.

If you are talking about the walk along the river in Chicago, yes, it’s worth it because that area of there city is scenic, but I would recommend the riverboat architectural tour instead. It covers the same ground and it gives you a real sense of the history of perhaps America’s most interesting architectural city.

I was told that there was a software issue but I also know that the agreement to use ASU’s multi-purpose arena has not been finalized yet. Before you get concerned, I have been told that it is making its way through an army of lawyers. Given our nation’s glacial legal process, nobody I spoke to on either side is concerned about it reaching the finish line. The last I heard, both sides were fine-tuning the wording on one point and then the deal should be done.

That payment structure that you posted is no longer valid. ASM, after discussion with the city, agreed to an installment plan requested by the Coyotes. My understanding is that the Coyotes have been making the agreed-to payments. The last installment is due on June 30.

From Twitter

Let me get this straight. You’ll do all the research and I just have to summarize? Where do I sign?

I’m not sure what, specifically, you mean by the conditional picks and hitting on them but I’ll take a crack at a few.

The Coyotes traded Scott Wedgewood to Dallas for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick. It becomes a third-round pick if the Stars make the playoffs. Per The Athletic’s model, Dallas has an 87-percent chance of making the playoffs.

The Coyotes traded Christian Dvorak to Montréal for a 2022 first-round pick. That pick is top-10 protected so they will not get Montréal’s pick with the Canadiens sitting near the bottom of the NHL standings. Instead, they will get Carolina’s first-round pick, which the Hurricanes sent to the Canadiens as compensation for offer-sheeting and singing center Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

The Coyotes traded Darcy Kuemper to Colorado for a 2022 first-round pick that is also top-10 protected. The Avs have the Western Conference’s best record. The Coyotes will get their pick. Arizona also got a conditional 2024 third-round pick. The condition on that pick is this: If Kuemper plays at least 50 percent of the playoff games and the Avs win the Stanley Cup, the Coyotes get that pick. If those conditions aren’t met, there is no third-round pick in the deal.

When the Coyotes acquired Andrew Ladd from the Islanders, they also got a 2022 conditional second-round pick and a 2023 conditional third-round pick from New York. The Coyotes get the better of New York’s two 2022 seconds, either New York’s own or Colorado’s (from the Devon Toews trade) That will obviously be the Islanders’ pick. The Coyotes get the 2023 conditional third-round pick if Ladd does not play a game next season.

The Coyotes traded Ryan Dzingel and Ilya Lyubushkin to Toronto for Nick Ritchie and a conditional 2023 third-round pick. The condition is that the Coyotes have the option of taking a 2025 second-round pick instead. They will take the latter.

Hope that covers it.

I think once rumors got out that teams were calling about Chychrun last summer, his camp became open the idea. I don’t think Jakob Chychrun wants to sacrifice three seasons of his prime in a rebuild. I can’t blame any player for that sentiment.

That said, GM Bill Armstrong will not budge off of his huge asking price. If teams aren’t willing to pay that price at the draft this summer —and Chychrun didn’t help that cause with a subpar season and then a season-ending injury — Armstrong won’t trade him. That is basic asset management. You don’t devalue your assets in trades or you will not succeed as a GM.

I won’t speculate yet on whom they might be targeting because I don’t think that list has been finalized, either for them or for other teams. I will dive into this in the offseason, however, because I do think that the Coyotes will be looking to do this again this summer.

Good question. The Senators have been a tire fire (pun intended with the arena name) for a long time. I think it’s fair to see some bias in some of those reports.

I think it was a combination of both. Keller clearly dedicated himself to changing his body this summer by adding those seven pounds of lean muscle mass. He had an earnest chat with Armstrong and he took it to heart.

Playing with Tourigny has also helped. Keller has been open about what a great communicator Tourigny is, and how he has enjoyed the relationship. Tourigny also had the confidence to put Keller in situations that he hadn’t seen in the past, including the penalty-killing unit and protecting leads late in games. That, in turn, ignited Keller’s confidence and you could see it in his game.

It’s a shame that he got hurt. He was headed for a 70-plus point season, but he clearly turned a corner under Tourigny.

I would think so. That’s generally a question that we ask on break-up day (April 30).

I have never asked players about their gardening skills. Now I feel like I must.

I’ll take Greece. I love Banff, but I love exploring foreign cultures even more. Canada is not foreign to me.

I don’t have one. I’m not qualified. The only thing that matters is what the scouts think.

Forward Juraj Slafkovský appears to be rising on everybody’s draft board, however.

Yep. It came in a story that I wrote about him very early in the process. Here’s the lede from that story that I wrote for The Athletic.

Past teammates describe Rick Tocchet as the ultimate alpha male, a guy whose aggressive nature is just as evident in his coaching as it was when he played. There is a balance to that machismo, however. Whether he is grousing about how much his feet ache after three-a-days at training camp, or mocking the vacant lot atop his head where one of the NHL’s better flows used to grow, Tocchet dives willingly and humorously into self-deprecation, removing any notion of an unchecked ego.

His relationship with Phil Kessel is another example.

It’s Sunday morning at the Ice Den Scottsdale. Twenty-one of the 23 players who will comprise the opening-night roster have just emerged from a meeting. Kessel stops at the grease board inside the locker room to pore over the day’s practice plan that assistant coach John MacLean has posted. It’s a long stop, and Tocchet can’t help noticing as he chats with a reporter in the short hallway outside the room.

“Did you see him looking at that board?” he asks Derek Stepan, repeating the question for several other players.

Kessel has finally heard enough and fires back.

“I’m just trying to see how long you’re keeping us on the fucking ice!” he chirps.

Tocchet lowers his head and starts to belly laugh. This encourages Kessel, who continues his complaint as he makes his way past his coach, a grin on his face.

It’s a quick but telling glimpse into the relationship that the two forged during their two seasons together in Pittsburgh, both of which ended with the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup. It also hints at who Kessel really is. Sure, there have been plenty of portrayals of Kessel, from clandestine hot dog junkie to unwilling practice and workout participant, to enigma or malcontent, but to Kessel and the handful of people in his inner circle, those portrayals elicit little more than an eye-roll or a shrug.


“Because they’re not true,” Kessel said.

Yes, the Coyotes provided me with this statement in response to Sky Harbor’s assertion that the proposed arena and entertainment district would saddle the airport with $21.5 million in annual losses.

“We are significantly confused by the assumptions that seem to underpin Sky Harbor’s estimate of the economic impacts of TED’s temporary construction cranes,” the statement said. “As a result, we are urgently requesting any data that they might be using, since it appears their assumptions do not reflect the facts of our construction plan. In any case, however, this so-called analysis excludes the net new economic benefits that TED will deliver to the county — benefits that include $5.9 billion of new spending, $12.5 billion of net new direct output, 8,700 new jobs and $225 million in net new tax revenue over the next 30 years.”

We already did one:

I have already covered multiple Super Bowls and college football championship games. I covered the 2001 World Series. I have also covered NBA conference finals. I have no desire to cover golf or the Olympics (too big and difficult to cover meaningfully from a media standpoint).

I really want to cover the Stanley Cup Final. Hockey has been my favorite sport since age 6.

The Blackhawks’ handling of the Kyle Beach scandal has been an unmitigated disaster. It removed any credibility from the franchise, it tarnished three Stanley Cups and the legacies of the players involved, and while Rocky Wirtz was the architect in making hockey meaningful again in Chicago, he has bungled this situation so badly and so callously that it is clear that he needs to step aside and let his son take over.

A lot. Honestly, I can’t remember all of them because it has been too long, but people at all levels of the organizations, and people around the league reached out. It meant a lot to me.

The future of the assistant coaches is one of those questions that you don’t ask until after the season. We’ll know soon.

Right after the draft at the Ice Den Scottsdale.

I can’t imagine the Coyotes ever going that route, given the fractured relationship. In fact, I’d bet the house that it won’t happen.

I don’t have a full sense of that yet but I would guess that Dmitrij Jaškin, Phil Kessel, Loui Eriksson, Kyle Capobianco and Josef Kořenář won’t be back.

I answered the former above. Strålman is a possibility.

Other than Dylan Guenther and JJ Moser, who have already signed, I don’t expect anyone else to sign but I could be wrong.

Yes, the installment plan calls for the last payment on June 30.

Xavier Gutierrez discussed that very advertising revenue plan in a Q&A that I conducted with him recently.

I am not aware of a Plan B this time around. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I just haven’t heard anything in that regard.

Those odds that you are seeing are only for the first draw. The odds for the remaining teams will increase on a proportionate basis for the second lottery draw, based on which team wins the first lottery draw.

I’m not sure. Somebody asked the same question two questions above this.

I will remind you what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the NHL All-Star Game:

“It’s something that has to be done in the short term,” Bettman said. “It’s not gonna be two weeks but it’s not gonna be two years. If there’s no prospect of a new building then we’re going to have to focus with ownership on what makes sense, but as long as there is a realistic possibility in the near term of a new arena in the right place, we think there’s a tremendous opportunity in that vibrant market.”

Right now, 14 that are on the NHL roster and 26 organization-wide. NHL RFAs Lawson Crouse, Christian Fischer and Barrett Hayton will likely be re-signed. Maybe Cam Dineen, too.

I needed this sarcasm today, Jack. And since you have been here for the long haul, you get full license.

I’m thinking about a seven-round mock draft this year, and then a speculative one for 2023, guessing the complete NHL standings ahead of time.

My guess is that the Coyotes would take Logan Cooley if Shane Wright goes No.1 as expected. Arizona needs top-end centers desperately, but it will all depend on the scouting staff’s evaluation.

It’s a really good question. I’ll have more from Ladd on that subject on Monday, but it is something on which to keep an eye.

I don’t know yet since I have not seen it completed, but I can tell you that there won’t be a bad seat in the building, and that includes the press box, which will be the closest press box to the ice in the NHL.

I’m not sure what their plans are for vendors, but I hope they go local and invite BoSa Donuts. They’re better than Tim Hortons or Dunkin’ Donuts.

They need top-end centers, but they also need top-end defensemen.

I think all options are on the table for the four, second-round picks. It will depend on whether other teams make offers, or if there is a player the Coyotes want in those spots. The draft is incredibly fluid.

It’s basically an AHL roster we’re watching right now. They’re in over their head, but I agree, the defending has been atrocious at times.

I don’t know yet, but Armstrong is in Europe right now to scout the league championships. TPS Turku (Slafkovsky’s team) is playing Tappara in the SM-liiga finals.

Normally, I would play along, Greg. Today, I’m giving you a shout-out for your tireless work with Maricopa County Animal Care & Control.

Please peeps, follow Greg’s lead. Consider adopting, fostering, volunteering or donating money and/or resources. The situation at the shelters is dire.

Cooley and Bedard. The Coyotes need centers and Bedard is the one player in the next two drafts whom scouts and executives view as a generational talent.

Good question. I have heard that some council members would prefer to take that cowardly approach. Tempe put out the RFP for the public to see. Tempe should decide on the RFP in full view of that same public. Transparency in government matters.

Not that I’m aware of. Rasmus Korhonen is currently playing in Tucson, but he is on loan and will return to Porin Ässät of the Finnish league next season.

Pretty weird. I still have a vivid memory of Derek Morris’ goal on Quick from the red line.

He has a long road ahead of him. Seventh-round picks very rarely make it to the NHL anyway and the injury has set him back in his development, but GM Bill Armstrong loves his work ethic and attitude.

The only recent development since the executive session was the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board meeting on Thursday.

At the executive session earlier this month, the City of Tempe asked the Coyotes for clarification on some points of their proposal. That process is ongoing. There will not be a vote on April 28 as previously hoped.

I have suggested the same in print. I think they need to find creative ways to stay connected to the fans who won’t be able to attend games at ASU, either due to costs or scarcity of tickets.

Glendale is planning to renovate Gila River Arena so that it can hosts bigger shows. The city says that it only needs about 20 shows to replace the revenue lost from those 42 or 43 Coyotes home dates (including preseason).

We’ll see how the rest of the year plays out with booking events, but if you look at the final six months of 2022 after the Coyotes officially move out, Gila River Arena only has 12 events booked over that six-month period, and three of those are Professional Bull Riders events. That’s not going to cut it.

Here’s what city manager Kevin Phelps told me today: “(Arena manager) ASM (Global) is working with (architect) HOK to finalize the scope of work and begin the first phase of identifying the core areas of focus for the renovations. Once that has been signed off, they will begin to work on managing the improvements around the scheduled events. As more eyes are looking at the renovation project, it appears that some of the back-of-house and infrastructure elements of the arena are in far better shape than earlier assessments. This will allow us to really focus the money on fan experience and revenue capture.”

Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse, Nick Schmaltz, Travis Boyd, Shayne Gostisbehere and JJ Moser all exceeded expectations. The jury is still out on Barrett Hayton. Coach André Tourigny loves all of the other elements of Hayton’s game. The bottom line is that he needs to produce more, but given his bizarre development path, I still think Hayton is capable. This is an important summer for him.

I thought the Blackhawks game was their best chance down the stretch but you never know in the NHL. The final five opponents are all playoff teams or playoff hopefuls with plenty for which to play.

Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter

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