Coyotes owner Richard Burke, executive vice president of hockey operations Bobby Smith, general manager John Paddock and assistant general manager Taylor Burke had just arrived with the transplanted Winnipeg Jets in Phoenix in the summer of 1996.
They liked the young talent on their roster and liked the opportune timing of their arrival.
The Suns were three days away from trading Charles Barkley to Houston, ending a memorable yet unfulfilled era for the franchise. The Diamondbacks wouldnt begin play for two more seasons, nobody knew what was in store for the 1996 Arizona State football team and brash-talking coach Buddy Ryan had just been fired because the Cardinals were still the same ol' Cardinals.
But the Coyotes' brain trust knew it needed something more to sell hockey in a nontraditional market.
"We didnt have a face," Taylor Burke said, "an elite, exciting player that the community could rally around."
Jeremy Roenick was that guy. He had posted three straight 100-plus-po...