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With a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, the Coyotes completed the dreaded O-for-October run with an 0-8-1 record. Arizona is two wins short of the franchise and modern-era NHL records for the longest winless streak to start a season.
Some of you refused to see this coming because you are diehards who always err on the side of hope.
Some of you were misled by a 5-1 preseason, forgetting that the exhibition portion of the schedule is never a precursor of what’s to come.
Most of you went into this with your eyes wide open, but even you did not expect those eyes to widen even further.
It’s hard to find reasons to watch the Coyotes this season. They are one of the league’s worst teams and that isn’t going to change through tactical adjustments or improved systems play. While it is fair to focus on the deep and talented 2022 NHL Draft as the payoff for this prolonged pain (the Coyotes currently own eight picks in the first two rounds), there are cautionary tales to tell when rooting for the tank.
There are 73 games remaining in the season. I don’t want you to fall prey to some etiquette violations so I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts for the remainder of the season. Here is my Coyotes fan guide to responsible tank rooting, with some submissions by multiple colleagues, past and present.
When two teams low in the standings play each other, root for 3-point games with the team lower in the standings winning in a OT, not a shootout. ROWs matter in the NHL’s tie-breaking procedures.
Keep an eye on the OHL scoring race. We all know that Kingston center Shane Wright is the top prize, but the Coyotes own two other first-round picks and five second-round picks. Their scouts will be all over the OHL this season, trying to make up for lost time after the 2020-21 OHL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Support and cheer for your favorite player or players. It’s even OK to root for them to score a game-winning goal here and there. Just don’t get carried away with it.
Keep your eyes on the prize. In moments of deep despair, go to the NHL standings page at NHL.com, click the League tab at the top of the standings, and then click on points to get the reverse order of the standings. Remember, it’s all about Shane Wright.
Teach your children well. They’re too young to understand the complexity of the tanking approach. Teach them to root openly for the Coyotes, no strings attached. The world will jade them in due time. Keep your ignoble thoughts to yourself.
Get creative. Speaking of Wright, feel free to craft new hashtags, slogans or taglines with your friends for the season. #WrongforWright, #DoTheWrightThing, #ShameForShane and #PainForShane are a few of the best ones that I have heard.
Manage your expectations. If you fall into one of the two former groups that I mentioned at the top of this story, remember that it may get better than this winless start, but it’s probably not going to get much better. If you fall into the latter group, remember the odds of winning the draft lottery are still slim, even if the law of averages has to give the Coyotes greater odds, given their lottery history.
Look for small victories to get you through the season. Highlight reel goals and saves, spirited fights and shootout losses all qualify.
Familiarize yourself with other leagues. We mentioned OHL games, but you might as well check in on the QMJHL, the WHL, the USHL, the SHL (Sweden), the SSM-liiga (Finland), the Czech Extraliga and more. You never know where the Coyotes will find players, but they are already scouting them in all of those countries, and more.
Run a ton of draft simulations until the Coyotes win the top pick. If you’re not familiar with the site, tankathon.com, here’s a good way to waste an hour of your work day while the boss isn’t looking. Look what I got on my very first sim.
Prepare for the third pick. We all know that the Coyotes have lousy lottery luck. They have literally never risen in the lottery, they have fallen in almost every year from their standings slot, and they have never picked higher than No. 3, which they did twice, landing Kyle Turris and Dylan Strome in seasons where Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid went first overall.
Drive to Tucson to watch some Roadrunners games. Some of the pieces of the future are playing there right now.
Don’t do too much scoreboard watching. The daily standings checks can cause exhaustion. Weekly check-ins will help maintain your sanity.
Don’t trade in your Coyotes swag for another team’s. That’s just wrong.
Don’t cheer for another team to win within earshot of the players or coaches, and never while you are attending games at Gila River Arena. Remember, coaches and players don’t tank. They play hard and they want to win. They put it all on the line so there is nothing more egregious than to cheer when the other team succeeds. It’s insulting and it hurts. It’s the kind of thing that Buffalo fans would do. Actually, it’s the kind of thing that Buffalo fans have already done, and it was as low as a fan base can go.
Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. It’s impossible to project how long this rebuild will take because it depends on so many factors, but there will be better days ahead. Don’t give up hope for the future.
Don’t get too enraged by what you are seeing on the ice. Yes, it’s hard to justify paying for those tickets, but you also get to watch NHL hockey. A lot of great players come through Gila River Arena on opposing teams. This is your chance to gain a greater appreciation for what in my mind is truly the beautiful game.
Don’t root for your team to trade good players unless they’re older guys who won’t be a part of the eventual core. It’s hard to build a Cup contender. It’s even harder when you start from scratch.
Don’t root too hard for the tank because you’re a Coyotes fan. You’re getting the third pick in the draft anyway.