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Coyotes monthly mailbag: You asked, I tried to answer

Craig Morgan Avatar
May 26, 2023

When you cover the Coyotes, there is no offseason. While Canadian writers retreat to their summer cottages on lakes, and American writers use up all those accrued Marriott points, the news keeps flowing in the desert in what we now call arena season.

This summer may turn out to be the most extreme example of that annual tradition. In order to recharge my mental battery for the coming drama that could determine the franchise’s fate in Arizona, I am taking the entire family to western Europe before I dive into the NHL Draft in Nashville, free agency and the next step in this quarter-century search for a permanent venue in the right part of town.

It’s my kids’ first trip to Europe. My daughter just graduated from Chandler High on Thursday night so this is a gift of sorts, but it’s also the family trip of a lifetime.

When the kids were younger, we did a lot of driving vacations because I like driving. I like exploring every inch of the country rather than passing over it in a plane. My kids have seen at least half of the continental states as well as parts of Canada and Mexico, but this is their first trip out of North America. On the docket: Paris, Heidelberg, Grindelwald, Milan, Nice and Dublin.

Many of you have already noted another tradition that accompanies my vacations: major Coyotes news. I can’t say that I will be entirely unplugged. I’ll be available to assist the PHNX Coyotes team if needed, but it’s nice to know that I can lean on teammates Steve Peters, Leah Merrall and Shawn DePaz to carry the mail; one of the many reasons I chose to join the PHNX team.

I have also booked some great guests for the shows on which I will be absent. Former Coyote Brendan Perlini will join the show on June 6 to take us inside the Scouting Combine experience from a player’s perspective. TSN’s Craig Button will join the show on June 7 to talk NHL Draft prospects. Former Coyote Daniel Winnik will join the show on June 13 as we look at the best late-round draft picks in Coyotes history. Former Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt will join the show on June 15 to discuss scouting and the draft. And if the United States wins gold at the IIHF World Championship, former Coyote Conor Garland has promised an appearance as well.

This will be my last post before I depart, but I have plenty of content planned to preview the draft, free agency and yes, the all-important arena search. Stay glued to PHNX Sports. We are and will continue to be the best source for Coyotes coverage.

Let’s get to your questions. If I overlooked one in the string of replies, I apologize. Shoot me a DM and I will update the mailbag.

Coyotes mailbag illustration.

From Discord

I would not trade Teemu Selänne. I would keep him but still acquire Jeremy Roenick from the Blackhawks. Imagine that butterfly effect on this franchise.

I had this conversation with a good friend in New York. I am excited about the addition of Bob Odenkirk to the cast, but I am also nervous. Season 1 was perfection. The writing was tight. The storytelling was powerful. The acting was superb. But how will they manufacture an existential crisis as powerful as the death of his brother to carry this season?

I will obviously watch Season 2, but there is a side of me that feels like they should have just stopped after one season because it is literally one of the best shows I have ever watched. If they nail it again, it may become No. 1 on my all-time list.

This is a brutally difficult choice. I am an enormous fan of both. They cast long shadows of influence on the music industry. Hendrix’s career was cut too short. Clapton’s career is fascinating to track, from The Yardbirds and Cream, to Derek and the Dominoes, other lesser known bands, and his solo career.

I really don’t know to pick one so instead I am offering one of my favorite songs from each, both of which are on my playlist labeled “Favorites.”

Hendrix: Little Wing
Clapton’s cover of San Francisco Bay Blues

“Game of Thrones.” We didn’t start watching it until three seasons had aired. The final disappointing season notwithstanding, it was an epic. I’d also throw “Six Feet Under” into the mix. We watched every episode with good friends and bawled our eyes out during the final episode’s montage of deaths.

I think it is already having an impact in that the core players are now concerned about being stuck in this rebuild (and limbo) for longer than expected. Just consider what we discussed on Wednesday’s show regarding Clayton Keller. Consider Logan Cooley’s decision to return to Minnesota instead of turning pro. GM Bill Armstrong either has to get the OK to acquire players and improve the team this summer, or risk losing core pieces via more trade demands. Losing those pieces would extend the rebuild — no matter where the Coyotes are playing.

This only becomes relevant if Bill Armstrong is not allowed to add significant pieces to the roster this summer, and if the franchise has no idea what the next step is as far as an arena. Armstrong does not want to trade either player.

If he has to, however, that’s an interesting scenario. The Coyotes are going to ask a lot in a trade for those players. The problem with the deal is that none of those picks, given where they fall, generally produces a player of Keller’s caliber. It could, but the past says it’s rare. Armstrong might want a better deal. Keller was a top-25 point producer last season on a bad team. I’d want a sure thing if I were to move him.

I assume you mean across the NHL. I like this idea, but it’s far too much research for a mailbag question. I don’t like spitballing off the top of my head, but this would be a good topic for a story or show.

I hate peas so it would have to be corn, but it would also have to be sweet corn on the cob.

The nature of the job differs from franchise to franchise. In general, the president of hockey ops is an experienced hockey mind who knows the league from several angles and can serve as a sounding board for the GM and ownership. How much power the president has again depends on the franchise. The president also tends to have a role on the business side of varying degrees, depending on their experience/expertise. Think of it as a senior advisor with actual power; a liaison between ownership and management.

I am more of a utilitarian shopper so I don’t really have favorite shops. I get what I need when I need it and get out as quickly as possible. I shop online a lot because I hate shopping, but I do like shopping at Banana Republic and Cost Plus.

On the other hand, I love dining out. Gilbert’s Heritage District has a lot of great options including Liberty Market, The Gilbert House, Joe’s Real BBQ, Joyride Taco Shop, Zinburger, Lolo’s and Valley favorites Culinary Dropout and Postino.

As for other Gilbert favorites, we go for walks in the riparian preserve and Agritopia often.

Mak wins, hands down. We considered hiring a security detail for her at one point. It got crazy.

I’ll give you a dozen in no particular order.

Cajun Gulf of Baja shrimp
Chesapeake Bay crab cakes
Bacon wrapped water chestnuts soaked in soy sauce
Carpaccio with capers and olive oil
Brie and bacon stuffed mushroom caps
Yellowtail sashimi
Lamb ravioli from Soule Domain in Lake Tahoe
Coconut shrimp
Pancetta, pear and fig-jam bruschetta
Potato skins
Lettuce wraps
Pot stickers

I heard from multiple sources that if Brady Tkachuk had fallen to No. 5 in 2018, GM John Chayka was still going to take Barrett Hayton. I’m not sure what the plan was in 2016 when Matthew Tkachuk went one spot before the Coyotes chose Clayton Keller. Both picks have worked out well.

They do not release that sort of information, but as Eddie Läck said on our show on Tuesday, players lodge complaints all of the time, and on a wide variety of issues. Läck thinks that at times, players do not appreciate how good they have it; that they are a bit too privileged.

Unfortunately, Ref Yousuk declines all media requests because he also sucks at interviews.

I know that they do. The Tempe vote was as painful as it was surprising for them.

They also know that any words they offer now will be met with derision and disbelief. It’s undeniable that they lost credibility with a good portion of the fan base after the Tempe vote.

My take? We heard a lot of words during the Tempe campaign. I think it would be best to keep their heads down and focus on actions now.

My understanding is that site is no longer on the table. First, you can’t put a sportsbook on ASU land. Second, there are also issues of land ownership similar to constraints on tribal lands.

In a word, no.

I know Shane would like to have a greater role in hockey ops. I’m not sure he is the right choice from a strict business standpoint, but if they split the duties with two presidents I think he could bring his knowledge of league operations to the table as well as an extensive knowledge of the game. As Brad Treliving once told me: “Shane Doan is a great hockey mind.”

I don’t know if that would matter as far as landing an arena, however. He certainly lends credibility, but he was stumping hard for the Tempe arena and it didn’t happen. The Coyotes just need a solid arena plan and better execution of that plan than they had in Tempe. They also need to avoid another public vote.

From Twitter

I don’t think they have the luxury of waiting another season. My sense is that they need to have an arena plan in place by the start of the 2023-24 season.

That depends on how high the mountains have to be. If you drive Pacific Coast Highway from Cambria to Carmel-By-The-Sea, you will get dramatic cliff and ocean views. Big Sur is one of my favorite places; damn near spiritual.

If you take the I-5 north from Medford in Oregon, it’s spectacular in the fall; maybe better foliage than New England because of the panoramic views. And then there are the picturesque Canadian Rockies if you don’t mind a long trek.

Nope. I think they are waiting to see how the Suns fiasco plays out.

I want to see all of them succeed, but I have to admit, I am loving this Florida Panthers run and Matthew Tkachuk’s role in it. Meow.

From coach Greg Powers: “We are definitely in a better position than ever before and able to support the program in ways like we never have. We are a net positive revenue sport and one of only three at ASU so we make money for the university now. Our $3.2 million in ticket revenue alone ranked second in college hockey only behind North Dakota.

Other than the uniqueness of our guys being able to watch games and visiting teams skate, there was no real direct financial benefit of the Coyotes playing at Mullett for ASU Hockey.

It aways comes back to salads for us, whether it’s a Caesar salad with salmon, a taco salad or a chef salad. Ceviche and sushi are also good choices.

If there is one player I would expect to sign, it would be Lilleberg. The Coyotes do not intend to sign Landry or Bergkvist. They had some interest in signing Landry to an AHL deal, but he will sign with Ambrì-Piotta in the Swiss A League.

Scorpions. Somebody needs to pick that awesome nickname in this market.

I feel like you have already researched this question and I do not want to peruse the Sundogs all-time roster to find out so please tell me. Both Wayne and Keith were a part of this franchise while I was covering the franchise.

Because I often experience the wave firsthand and never watch James Corden, I will go with the wave.

That’s a complex question that depends on the specific laws and charters of the individual municipalities. You’d have to be more specific with your proposal because legal language is far more specific and nuanced. There were taxes that were being used to pay down the debt on the Tempe site, even if they came in the form of sales tax generated on the site. It’s a game of semantics.

ASU very much wanted to discuss using the Tempe arena as its new home for men’s and women’s basketball. I do not think the former site from 2016 is still in play for reasons stated above. You can’t build a sports book on ASU land and you can’t own ASU’s land. Alex Meruelo wants to do both.

That will likely depend on whether GM Bill Armstrong is allowed to spend to improve this roster, and whether they have a viable arena plan in place by the start of free agency.

I will do so if they announce that they are looking at one of those sites. I have to be careful with how much research I take on outside of my normal scope. Maybe somebody in the Coyotes community has expertise?

They didn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. They failed to capitalize on the initial excitement about the team. All it took was one run and they would have re-energized the city. They did that in Glendale when they made the playoffs three straight seasons and went to the Western Conference Final in 2012. The place was packed in the playoffs.

It all depends on the budget that ownership grants GM Bill Armstrong. I think he understands how important such moves would be to keeping his core content with remaining in Arizona.

I don’t have one. I just want them to stay within the core of the city’s population and wealth bases, which is also the core of their season-ticket base. I think they need to be along the corridor on the east side of town that extends from Shea Blvd. down the 101 to the 202, as far west as downtown Phoenix, and as far east as western Mesa.

It would definitely be an outdoor mall like Kierland or SanTan Village. It would have a bougie coffee shop. It would have shading over all of the outdoor walking areas. It would have a high-end movie theater with reclining seats and foot rests and multiple cup holders for each seat. It would have lots of outdoor dining options (Mexican, gourmet pizza, Italian, steakhouse, sushi bar).

USA, of course.

Either works for me. You decide.

Forward Matvei Michkov at No. 6 and defenseman David Reinbacher at No. 12. Not sure either would fall that far.

Based on the timeline of some players and their agents, they had better have something concrete by then.

I don’t know. It’s a piece of information I need to explore when I get back from vacation. I just haven’t had the time to research it.

Alive: Michael Jordan
Dead: Muhammad Ali

No. That is basically tied to whichever nation you committed to first. Jakob Chychrun is also a US citizen and wanted to play for Team USA, but some weird politics prevented that so he chose Canada.

It’s a good question. I might start by writing actual letters to local politicians of note to express how important keeping the team is to you. A flood of letters generally garners a politician’s attention.

Rare roast beef on a good pumpernickel (some can be dry) with mayo, mustard, tomatoes and havarti cheese.

Contractually, that can and will likely happen in July.

Vienna beef hot dogs (with a no ketchup available sign), Chicago-style thin crust pizza and Bosa donuts.

One. Alex Ovechkin.

I don’t know yet. Those conversations are coming, but not yet finalized. I think there is a path to keeping all three. It’s possible that Ivan Prosvetov could be claimed off waivers and added to another team’s NHL roster (he can’t go to the AHL off a waiver claim) but I don’t think he has done enough to warrant that type of attention.

I need more information. Tempe City Council meetings were actually pleasant. Glendale, not so much.

I haven’t spoken to him in a month but I will likely try to catch up with him this summer.

Honestly, Matt, I have almost no memory of that place. I do remember doing mall walks with my wife when we first moved to Arizona and lived near the mall. It was one way to escape the heat, but I literally can’t remember a single detail about the place.

I have been fortunate. I have never had to cover anything more than a single overtime.

Eric Wedum. You can find him on Twitter. He does great work.

I don’t like to speculate but I don’t think the Coyotes are going after big-name free agents and it remains to be seen what their budget will be for acquiring players. I don’t like speculating because it assumes that I know which players would work best within their system, their needs and their culture. I do not. The only people who truly understand that are the ones researching that information and making the decisions.

The Coyotes aren’t chasing big-name free agents so I don’t think it matters. The guys they sign are guys who are generally just looking for an NHL job. There will always be plenty of those guys.

If they get a couple years down the road where this team is ready to compete for a playoff spot and there is still uncertainty surrounding their future in Arizona, that could have an impact on guys wanting to sign here.

I would definitely take that one for the team.

I don’t have a gut feeling. As I noted above, I just want them to stay within the core of the city’s population and wealth bases, which is also the core of their season-ticket base. I think they need to be along the corridor on the east side of town that extends from Shea Blvd. down the 101 to the 202, as far west as downtown Phoenix, and as far east as western Mesa.

Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts. Money.

It was an interim guy filling in but I know that both of those positions are being filled. I’m not sure what the plan is for the future of that position. Some people really liked the recent tenor of it; others hated it and thought it was unprofessional, most notably players and agents.

I don’t do predictions. I will just track the news and we’ll see what happens. There are options, but they have to have a plan in place soon.

See my response above this one.

From my producer, Shawn DePaz, who follows both teams closely: “Undoubtedly the D-Backs. You have some of the young guys like Corbin Carroll, Jake McCarthy and Alek Thomas who have a more classic flow to match the Yotes with good hair like Clayton Keller. Then, on top of that, you have the long, golden curls of Andrew Chafin and the always colorful Lourdes Gurriel Jr.. It’s simply no match!”

Me: Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts.
Leah: Marinara, cheese, pineapple (☹️), mushroom, black olives, peppers, tomato, garlic.
Petey: Pepperoni … thats it, no other choice — and absolutely NO VEGGIES!
Shawn: Grilled chicken, hot peppers and onions.

It would definitely require the addition of an ice plant and NHL dressing rooms, all of which have been removed. I have assumed that it would require a renovation, but I wonder if they could get creative to minimize cost. Any renovation of the seating would require the north end being extended to avoid all of those obstructed view seats.

I played this one a lot when I was a youth hockey player, and when I was in college. Shawn DePaz will always say he is the best. My money is on a Steve Peters-Craig Morgan team.

We don’t know yet, but we are really hoping it happens. It would be very difficult for me to cover training camp without being there, given the massive time difference.

Mostly just training and resting. He is a restricted free agent this summer.

Ha! Vids are not my thing, but I’ll bet my kids would play.

It’s hard to gauge how the recent news about the arena vote and their bankrupt RSN has impacted their value, but at the start of the season, knowing full well that they were going to be playing at Mullett Arena, Forbes estimated their value at $450 million, the lowest in the NHL.

As I noted above, I would take that one for the team.

Matvei Michkov, who may or may not drop to that spot.

I suggest you start it, but we may pass the hat at our golf event on Friday.

No clue, but I do think they need to try to identify their goalie of the future at some point soon. Anson Thornton and Rasmus Korhonen are still a long ways away in their development. Ivan Prosvetov has not panned out as hoped.

I really thought the timing of my vacation was perfect this year. It came before the draft and free agency, but after the draft lottery and after the vote, which everyone within the city and within the franchise thought was going to pass.

The best laid plans…

Top illustration via Getty Images

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