Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate PHNX Sports Community!

Coyotes monthly mailbag: You asked, I tried to answer

Craig Morgan Avatar
December 26, 2022

I have long believed that the entire period between Christmas Eve Day and New Year’s Day should be a national holiday. Business leaders probably don’t agree. The US is so hyper focused on productivity and work ethic that it fails to consider the benefits that more balance might be create. An entire week off probably sounds like blasphemy.

Some smaller companies have already clued in to the idea that a built-in break helps recharge the batteries, leading to a happier, healthier, more productive workplace. I have friends who own a branding firm that shuts down during this entire period.

But too many companies give lip service to mental and physical health, without backing it with real policy. The new year is all about renewal anyway, so why not put some money where their mouth is? I can’t imagine that this week is terribly productive anyway, with so many workers’ focus elsewhere.

Yeah, I know. It’s a pipe dream. At any rate, I hope you are all enjoying a great holiday. Let’s get to your questions. There were 80 this month!

From Discord (23)

1. Eggnog: No. just no.

2. No. I thoroughly enjoyed playing goal. I loved the position, the equipment, the pressure; everything about it. I’d do it all over again.

I don’t think that targeting a specific position at the trade deadline will be their focus so much as acquiring good assets (more likely draft assets). I feel the same about the draft, but there is no denying that there are no high-end right-handed defenseman prospects in the system, especially with Conor Timmins gone. This is something that they will have to address at some point, perhaps via trades.

I don’t know, but this assumption by some that it will have to be a big-draw team such as the Blackhawks is likely off base. When I spoke to NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer, he told me that outdoor games are going to sell out no matter what; the local interest is that great.

I’d like to see it be one of the Coyotes’ regional rivals. That is more difficult now that the NHL has moved the Coyotes to the Central Division, but I like the idea of highlighting the Southwest sunbelt region so I’d vote for Vegas or LA at Sun Devil Stadium. 

Truth be told, I don’t think there is such a thing as luck. I think it’s a matter of chance and probability. The Coyotes are overdue on this front. They have never moved up in a draft and they have often moved down.

As I noted in my Friday column, while national media suggest that Arizona is not where the league wants Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli to end up, the idea that the Chicago Blackhawks, fresh off the disgusting Kyle Beach scandal, are a better fit, is downright revolting.

And before anybody asks, no, I don’t think that there is any concern that Bedard or Fantilli would not sign here.

The necessary referendum signatures were gathered in about a week, and I was told that on each of the three items on the proposal, more than twice the necessary signatures were gathered to ensure that if some were deemed invalid, they would still have more than enough signatures.

The plan all along was to get them quickly, rather than in the 30-day allotment. They hired professionals to achieve that goal. I can also report that the signatures have been verified. We should get an official announcement soon that it is going before the voters on May 16.

1. I think that a package deal is highly unlikely. Few teams can absorb that sort of cap hit, few teams are looking to add two defensemen and the idea of trading both in one deal would really complicate the deal. If they go, expect them to be separate deals.

2. Toronto, because nothing is real until Toronto media say it’s real.

1. Carcone is probably going to get a call-up at some point this season; he has earned it. That said, let’s not turn this into another Justin Hodgman or Marc Arcobello situation. Carcone is a terrific AHL player; he’ll be a depth player in the NHL.

2. I do not think Jan Jeník has fallen out of favor so much as he still needs to develop. It didn’t help that in his first recall of the season, he committed two penalties. He has to play on the edge to be effective, but he can’t go over the edge, if that makes sense.

It depends on how his season plays out in Tucson. He is playing better than last season when he struggled, but there is still another level that he needs to reach consistently. He will be a restricted free agent after this season so decision time is coming on his place in the franchise’s future.

1. Hey, if we can use state tax money to send children to private or religious schools, I don’t see why not. Separation of church and state no longer seems to matter. If politicians who write laws to benefit the schools in which they are invested can do it, why can’t you?

2. It depends on how you view Hayton. If you are still waiting for him to be a No. 1 center based off of his draft position, you probably no longer believe in him. If you move past his draft status and realize that it doesn’t matter at this point if he can become a good middle-six center, then you are probably still onboard.

Hey Abe: I asked other fans for input on this and really didn’t get much of a response. I’m not saying it’s not an issue and my guess is that, to a certain extent, the tight concourses in a college arena are the culprit. I’ll keep my eye out, and if more fans complain about it, I will certainly ask the Coyotes about it. In the meantime, you might want to contact the Coyotes directly.

No. I think it is viewed as a one-off, although it would have been nice if the policeman in the foreground of the video had been a more active participant.

Yes, I think they are both legitimate NHL centers, but right now, both are bottom-six centers with specific skill sets that help them in those roles.

I never said I think it’s working. I leave that analysis up to the experts.

André Tourigny likes that alignment, however. Here is what he told me about it.

“I like everything about it,” he said. “When you play at 11-7, that gives you the opportunity to reward guys who deserve it, and to have versatility in the sense that if you want more rugged lines, you can put a rugged player there. If you want more skill, you can put a skilled player there. That allows those 10th and 11th forwards to play with one of those top-end guys.

“On the back end, I like the fact that it spreads out the ice time. I’m a big believer that to defend, you need a lot of energy. When our D play too many minutes they don’t defend the same way and now it compounds in lack of possession and not [having] the same pop offensively. I think when your D are 20 minutes, around that and less, they have energy and they are going at their opponent and they press. Now you become more of an in-your-face type of team.”

Be careful with assuming that the 11-7 alignment is what is causing the too-many-men on the ice penalties. As Petey pointed out on the postgame show, it can lead to them, but if you dive into this season’s instances, you will see that it is mostly player mistakes that lead to those penalties.

When I asked Tourigny what was leading to those penalties, he said it was not the 11-7 formation, but he declined to explain what it was; likely not wanting to throw players under the bus. The other night, it was Jack McBain jumping too early that led to the penalty. Youth is certainly a factor.

1. It depends on how he performs, but sure, it’s a possibility. He’s quick, he has good vision and he has a good stick. Those are good attributes for the PK.

2. Ask me at the end of this season, but I have to admit, I just don’t see how Söderström fits. His skating and skill level are not elite enough to overcome his lack of size, especially when GM Bill Armstrong really, really values size on the back end because of the ground that it allows bigger players to cover with their reach. I could be wrong.

1. Absolutely. I could see him getting a call-up this season if they have any injuries or one of the vets takes a dip in play.

2. That calls for a lot of speculation. What do his stats and underlying numbers look like at the end of the season? What are other teams’ needs? I do think that still having two years remaining on a palatable contract makes him valuable.

If the Coyotes are unable to move him before the trade deadline, keep an eye out at the draft. That’s where the price could change. Say another team has a high first-round pick that they are willing to exchange for him. If the Coyotes know that they are getting the No. 10 pick, that removes the uncertainty of simply getting a first-round pick and waiting to see where it falls, so they may be willing to take that as well as another asset (second-round pick or a prospect).

From Twitter (57)

They are actually quite different in their personalities. Cooper is a really personable guy who will chat and chat with any media member; the perfect coach in a non-traditional market. Sullivan is more reserved, but both are actually great communicators (Sullivan has provided incredible analysis for me in the past) and that serves them well with the players and with management.

That said, let’s be honest, Sheryl. The greatest ingredient in their longevity is the star players who have led to sustained success. Without stars and the corresponding wins, no coach is safe.

Thanks, gents. I left out the photo that you included, Matt. I couldn’t, uh, bear the thought of including it.

I suspect that it is being considered. He is second all-time in games and points by a Coyotes defenseman, he was a critical piece in the franchise’s best run of success, he wore a letter and he was beloved by his teammates and staff.

Here is the poll that we ran when I wrote about him in October.

They love it. He has infused much needed offense into that lineup and it is pretty awesome that he is leading the AHL in points. I’ll be writing about him this week.

As I noted above, Carcone is probably going to get a call-up at some point this season; he has earned it. That said, while Carcone is a terrific AHL player, he’ll be a depth player in the NHL.

Development can be viewed in many different ways, and not all of it is happening on the ice. A lot of it is happening in off-ice work or individual work on and off the ice.

It is not solely a reflection of points or minutes either. The staff is trying to build full 200-foot players who are ready and able to play in every situation.

The veteran players are doing their jobs and creating internal competition as well as insulating the young players. Prospects need to learn the correct way of playing and behaving at the AHL level before they are prepared and able to play at the next level.

It’s also important to note that in this system, the belief is that developing and learning to win go hand-in-hand. If everything is given to you in terms of ice time and role, you don’t ever really learn how to earn a spot and to win, and that is the ultimate goal. The prospects are learning to navigate through a deeper lineup with higher standards of expectation based on that level of depth.

1. I am not aware of any change of heart, but the longer this drags out, I do wonder if Chychrun will get fed up with all of the trade talk. It will dog him the way it dogged Keith Yandle in his final few seasons here.

2. The problem is that Keller is still only tied for 53rd in the NHL in points. Scoring is up across the NHL and his numbers are reflection of that. As of Friday, 52 players were averaging a point per game. That’s the context that you have to consider; and of course, the fact that he plays in this market.

I have been asked this question a lot. Let me start by saying this: The Coyotes are solely focused on getting their Tempe arena and entertainment district proposal approved by voters on May 16. They aren’t going to discuss Plan B, even though they certainly have a Plan B, and probably a Plan C and a Plan D.

As far as the Footprint Center welcoming back the Coyotes, I have no idea how new owner Mat Ishbia feels, and what his appetite for sharing that facility might be. Second, we don’t know if the Phoenix City Council or the Suns would welcome the idea of a major renovation to the arena so soon after another major renovation was just completed.

For the Coyotes to move in, the entire north end of the building would have to be blown out to create a genuine bowl without obstructed-view seats. I have heard estimates that it would cost more than $200 million to do so. If the Coyotes are to find the private financing for such a venture, would they want to make that sort of investment in what is now a 30-year-old building?

Finally, it’s important to remember why the Coyotes left Footprint Center (then America West Arena) back in 2003. It wasn’t just those obstructed-view seats. It is difficult for NHL and NBA teams to share a building while both reap the full revenue benefits that come from naming rights, advertising and other avenues. There are facilities around North America that are shared by NBA and NHL teams, but if you look at those instances, they are largely in major markets where revenue streams are more plentiful and the arena is usually owned by the city, jointly owned or owned by an NHL team. In Denver’s case, both teams are owned by the Kroenke family, mitigating the issue.

Having an NHL tenant in an NBA-owned arena is problematic because the NHL does not have anywhere near the national TV rights money that the NBA enjoys so its harder to mitigate revenue losses or shortcomings.

I’m not saying that this can’t happen, and the thought of having the Coyotes back downtown is interesting because it could create even more of a hub than already exists with the Suns and Diamondbacks. Just know that there are many hurdles to cross before that could become a reality. It’s not as simple as saying, “Robert Sarver is gone. Now the Coyotes can move downtown.”

That is a good question, and one that I will address when it becomes a reality; not speculation. There are 50 games remaining and the Coyotes are five points ahead of 31st place in the NHL standings. A lot can and will happen in those 50 games.

I’m not sure the difference in numbers is statistically notable. I was told that he’s not in a different role this season. He may have had some second-unit power-play time last season.

He’s playing a solid game at the moment. He’s able to close quickly on the opponent as well as transfer and pass the puck through the defensive and neutral zones.

Jakob Chychrun and Shayne Gostisbehere top the list. Nick Ritchie will need to heat up for the return to be worthwhile. Nick Bjugstad won’t fetch much of a return so it may not be worth removing his influence in the room. I don’t think that teams wold be able to take on Nick Schmaltz’s contract.

Two dark horses to watch: Christian Fischer (RFA after this season) and Karel Vejelkma (it would have to be a high price which he may not garner given his limited sample).

Aside from the obvious market limitations, he does not score enough goals. Goals are valued (rightfully so) above assists.

1. I think he is conflicted. Clearly, this season is about drafting a franchise-changing prospect and he understands the importance of that pick to the franchise’s long-term success, but he is also a competitor who is proud of the way that this team is competing.

2. It depends on the amount and chemical composition of that sweat.

First, what do you mean by “falling by the wayside?” They didn’t compete in the last Olympics due to the COVID pandemic. The Olympics are still very important to the players and I doubt that the COVID pandemic will be a factor the next time around, so I guess that’s my answer.

Between the Olympics and the World Championship, I think they have it covered. I just wish the World Championship was later so more players could compete while fresh. Then again, many NHL players do not want more hockey and I don’t blame them. The season is already a grind. That’s why the Olympic format works so well. The World Cup of Hockey is also a fun format.

I was told that two separate polls conducted by a reputable firm (I checked) showed more than 60-percent support for the proposal. That said, there is a lot of time before the May 16 vote. We’ll see how the respective sides’ campaigns impact opinions and the results.

1. A lot. The development coaches and skating coaches often visit them for on-ice sessions, the entire staff does live viewings, video viewings and phone calls, and the staff also communicates with the respective teams’ (college, juniors, European) staffs.

2. Michael Carcone, Laurent Dauphin and perhaps Vladislav Kolyachonok.

1. It is. They were very close. Ultimately, it was more money than the Coyotes wanted to take on. There were other contracts with big cap hits where the actual salaries were not as high due to already-paid bosses or lower salaries in the latter years of the deals. Maybe it’s for the best. Monahan could have made them too good.

2. They have pro scouts all over the league who attend games. Other teams never really know whom they are scouting, although they can certainly guess. They also watch a lot of video.

That’s a hard one for me. With few high-end defensive prospects in the system and even fewer of the right-handed variety, I have a hard time figuring out why they gave up on him. It felt like they could have waived others such as Dysin Mayo (which they eventually did) and Patrik Nemeth (would not have been claimed) to make room for him.

The Coyotes didn’t feel he was ready to play heavy NHL minutes; that he needed more time in the AHL to develop. Maybe they are right.

I know that a lot of people are jumping to conclusions based off a handful of games in Toronto in advantageous situations, but slow your roll on that one. When the Leafs get healthy, Timmins will be back in a No. 6 or No. 7  role. Will he be able to develop in that role with such limited minutes or were the Coyotes right that what was best for him was to go back to the AHL?

Whatever happens, I hope it works out for the injury-riddled Timmins. He’s a good kid and his dad, Dan, is a great guy.

Of course, but without elite talent you don’t win Cups. Full stop. The Coyotes need more elite talent in their system. That almost always comes via the draft. The system of prospects and current players is not good enough to compete for a Cup. Everyone knows this, from external analysts to internal management and scouts.

Covering the 2011-12 team that somehow made it to the Western Conference Final with a top line that nobody viewed as a No. 1 line. That team was full of great stories and characters. I still believe that had LA not snuck in as the West’s No. 8 seed, the Coyotes would have won the Cup.

I don’t think so. He has too much term left on that deal and not enough of a track record as a consistent points producer.

Boston center Patrice Bergeron, who is the epitome of a two-way player, a great leader and a graceful representative of the franchise.

Colorado defenseman Cale Makar and New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin, whom I could watch play all night.

I don’t have a favorite goalie right now because I love athletic guys who make spectacular saves (think Dominik Hašek) over blockers; although the latter appear to be more effective in today’s NHL.

I would think that would be determined by individual players, rather than an overall mindset. Remember, the Coyotes still have to play at least two more seasons at Mullett Arena. That is not a big draw for players.

I agree. You need generational players to win Cups, but players and coaches do not try to lose. Only management does. Again, there are still 50 games remaining. Plenty of time…

1. Maybe, but Minnesota has legitimate national championship hopes with college hockey’s best forward line and maybe its best overall blue line. The NCAA Frozen Four is April 6 & 8 in Tampa. The Coyotes’ final game is April 13. That’s a tight window.

2. If that is what Barrett Hayton becomes, that is fine. You need effective, defensively strong No. 3 centers. It’s not like he carries an impossible contract. His draft status no longer matters.

Stay tuned. I have a story planned on him that will publish soon.

The NHL loves Houston as a potential expansion market. When expansion is back on the table, it will be near or at the top of the list, as might be nearby Austin.

I don’t think that the NHL feels the same way about Québec. Canadian fans always scream that it would draw well, but attendance isn’t the only driver of revenue and it has not been for a while.

Québec is tiny. It would be the smallest market in the NHL if it came back and that presents TV-rights issues, corporate-sponsorship issues and other issues. To put it bluntly, the NHL’s financial analysis does not find that Québec is a great market. It’s not really growing and the population of the province is actually declining. I could see a second NHL team outside Toronto before a team goes to Québec, even with the existing arena.

That analysis is absolutely occurring right now. With regard to Ghost, I think it all depends on the return. There is no point in selling him cheap. He likes it here and he has had success.

On the other hand, if a team offers a first-round pick, I’d take that deal in a heartbeat. I’m not sure where the thinking lies on a second-round pick.

Since you followed this by putting the kibosh on my ingenious realignment plan, I’ll go with a change in the travel schedule to bring back multi-game series between the same teams in one city without travel in between. I don’t think that governors like this because it may hurt attendance, but it certainly makes life easier on players, coaches and staff. With better rest, they would probably play better hockey.

1. The fact that he is playing in the ECHL does not bode well. Very few NHL skaters (it’s generally goalies) come via the ECHL. Kirk was a seventh-round pick to begin with so his odds were already long. This does not help.

2. I’ll judge that when I know where they are picking.

Is there a third option?

He has strengthened the scouting staff.

He has strengthened the development staff.

He is only beginning to strengthen the prospect pool.

As I have said elsewhere in this mailbag, Bill Armstrong doesn’t care about Barrett Hayton’s draft status. If Hayton becomes a No. 3 center, that is fine. You need effective, defensively strong No. 3 centers. It’s not like he carries an impossible contract. His draft status no longer matters, but he does need to start producing on some level offensively.

Nope. Boeser is a year older than Chychrun, he carries a much bigger cap hit ($6.65 million vs. $4.6 million) and he’s a wing while Chychrun is a defenseman (a premium position). Not a chance.

1. All quiet at the moment with the holiday roster freeze, Josh. It will pick up in January and especially in February.

2. My go-to holiday dish is anything but turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. I don’t like the traditional meal at all, although my mom’s gravy makes everything better. Give me a steak or some ethnic cuisine.

We always watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Elf” with the kids.

1. Maybe now that Matias Maccelli is injured, but with the 11/7 alignment, there was no rush with the Coyotes in the midst of a glut of home games and Tucson just two hours away. As he has done more often than not this season, André Tourigny will go with the 11/7 alignment because he likes it.

2. Although rafter banners are not specifically named in the Coyotes’ agreement with ASU, the team is not allowed to affix any permanent signage to the building. That’s why you don’t see the ring of honor or the 2012 banners. That said, given everything that Doan has done for the hockey community in the Valley, and given the fact that he is also closely tied to ASU because Josh plays there, I wonder if ASU would bend the rules in this one instance.

1. Shoot more (his 23 shots rank 16th on the team) and score more (his 3 goals are tied for 18th among NHL rookies).

2. I’ll take the Keller-Boyd-Schmaltz line. They have 56 points even though Schmaltz missed 15 games with an injury. The Maccelli-Bjugstad-Crouse line has 51.

Yes, as I noted above, they were gathered within about a week and have already been verified.

None that I have heard at this point. Again, this will come down to what is being offered, as well as the demand on the market.

Not really. They get to see Josh Doan play whenever they want, but I wouldn’t say that they are scouting ASU’s other players more than they are watching others.

The Sun Devils still have some work to do to get the top-tier recruits, but now that have the arena, I think they will come. Coach Greg Powers told me that the arena is already having an impact in that regard. So will winning and NCAA Tournament berths.

It does now. It should have had it to from the get-go. He played 23 games last season.

1. Their season is going well in a tough Pacific Division in which a league-high three teams have a points percentage over .670 and a league-high six teams have a points percentage over .570.

They are trying to build a winning culture down there that will transfer to the NHL. Sometimes, that means younger guys have to learn from veterans before they spread their wings. That’s what’s happening now.

2. You can’t help but root for workhorse forward Ben McCartney (seventh round, 2020), who looks like a good, fourth-line energy prospect.

It’s really nice, actually. It’s funny how a lot of fans from visiting cities will crap on it, thinking it’s not up to snuff with other NHL visiting spaces. I’ve had visiting players tell me it’s much nicer than a lot of those spaces.

Most of the knuckleheads you see opining on Twitter have never actually seen any visiting locker rooms. There are plenty of bad visitors rooms (Calgary, Boston, Madison Square Garden, Winnipeg, Carolina, Washington, Ottawa and Buffalo all come to mind).


Top photo via Getty Images

Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter

Scroll to next article