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THN.com Blog: Calamitous Coyotes in for a long 2009-10

The Phoenix Coyotes had a 36-39-7 record last season. (Getty Images)

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The Phoenix Coyotes had a 36-39-7 record last season. (Getty Images)

Are you one of those NHL fans who believe your team hasn’t done much to keep up with the off-season changes made by front-running franchises this summer? Feeling as if there won’t be much on-ice action for your eyeballs to enjoy this season?

It could be worse. You could be one of those unfortunate souls who root for the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Yotes – back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons Monday, when a U.S. bankruptcy judge attempts to sort out a myriad of legal filings regarding the team’s present and future location – may just be the lamest of all lame-duck sports teams in 2009-10.

They never had an easy time selling NHL tickets in Arizona to begin with – especially when the team on the ice has been as nondescript as it gets over the past decade – but after all the posturing and threats from both the league and owner Jerry Moyes, could you blame anybody but the most hardcore team supporters from deserting this group?

It’s not as if poor (both in the karmic sense as well as in financial capital) GM Don Maloney can do much about it. Where his colleagues have been signing unrestricted free agents and making trades left, right and center, Maloney has been far less active. Here’s a full rundown of the marquee acquisitions Phoenix has made since missing the playoffs for the sixth straight season (and the seventh time in the past eight) last spring:

1. Vernon Fiddler
2. Adrian Aucoin
3. Jim Vandermeer
4. Jason LaBarbera

I’ll pause for a second while you catch your breath.

To make matters worse, the L.A. Kings, the only Pacific Division rival the Coyotes were as bad as in 2008-09, have greatly improved their odds at making the post-season thanks to the arrival of veterans Ryan Smyth and Rob Scuderi and the drafting of Brayden Schenn.

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Each of the other teams in the Pacific has cause for optimism. The Sharks never disappoint until the playoffs and once again will be at or near the top of the regular season standings; the Ducks lost Chris Pronger, but replaced him with top prospect Luca Sbisa and improved their offense with Saku Koivu and Joffrey Lupul; and the Stars figure to be better with Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow’s serious injuries a thing of the past.

That’s what the Coyotes are up against in 2009-10. They can’t afford another squandered season, yet can’t afford to do the things that will prevent them from squandering another season.

So raise a glass of spirits or ale to the Yotes’ marketers – if only to show them how best to cope with what in all likelihood will be a miserable year.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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