Originally written on Hockey Fan Land  |  Last updated 11/15/14

By: Chad Smith

Today the Phoenix Coyotes enter game 5 of their Conference Semi – Finals match up against the Nashville Predators up 3-1 with a chance to go to the organizations first ever Conference Finals. Not long ago was the franchise of the Phoenix coyotes almost extinct from bankruptcy and an ownership in shambles. The Coyotes franchise has been in the NHL since 1979 originally as the Winnipeg Jets and moving to Phoenix in 1996. Neither team has ever made it past the second round of the playoffs. The Coyotes had never won a playoff series until this season and now are on the verge of their second playoff series victory. What makes this more impressive is the fact the Coyotes do not have an owner. The Phoenix Coyotes have been owned by the National Hockey League for the past two seasons, and dealing with ownership turmoil for the past three season.



The NHL should be applauded for keeping the Coyotes viable not taking the easy road and making them completely irrelevant. While the Coyotes have a payroll of $53 million which ranks 23rd in the league, they kept the team competitive and in the playoff race while driving up the value of the franchise for a future sale. While it is easy for a team’s performance to plummet when dealing with these types of issues, look at the Los Angeles Dodgers and New Orleans Hornets, the Phoenix Coyotes prospered. The Dodgers under Frank McCourt and the MLB were turned into laughing stocks last season with a new report surfacing everyday about the legal battles. The same thing happened in the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets when the NBA took over ownership control from George Shinn. Both those franchises crumbled because the league took them over and did not try to keep them competitive. The Dodgers kept the status quo while the New Orleans Hornets traded their best player… Twice. Gary Bettman and the NHL deserve credit for not doing what those other two leagues did. The NHL proved it’s the second best run league behind the NFL and the Phoenix Coyotes story proves that. They are five wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals while those previous mentioned teams didn’t come close to qualifying for the playoffs.




While the NHL deserves a ton of credit you cannot over look the job done by General Manager Don Maloney, Head Coach Dave Tippett, and the leadership of Captain Shane Doan. Maloney has done a great job of putting a competitive team together on a limited budget and should have been one of the finalists for general manager of the year. Dave Tippett has kept his team focused and has them playing great hockey at the most important time of the year. Tippett should be a Jack Adams finalist for leading the Coyotes to their first division title in the desert. Shane Doan has spent his entire career in the desert including one year with the original Winnipeg Jets. Doan has been through a relocation, an ownership debacle, and now is five wins away from the chance to play for the most storied trophy in sports Lord Stanley’s Cup.  His leadership on the ice and in the locker room has set a great example for everyone else around him.


Teams like the Phoenix Coyotes deserve to win championships for overcoming this kind of adversity. If the players had packed it in this year no one would have blamed them and would have credited to all the off ice distractions that have surrounded the team these past few seasons. Instead Shane Doan is leading the way with Mike Smith playing stellar in the cage. With the hockey world watching the Coyotes have a chance to be the first team in history with no owner to be a champion. If they can win tonight with the Predators on the verge of extinction they will be half way to bringing the Cup to the desert.


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