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Loose Change: Best in show?

With a 36-19-5 record, the Phoenix Coyotes are surprisingly the fourth-best team in the NHL. (Getty Images)

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With a 36-19-5 record, the Phoenix Coyotes are surprisingly the fourth-best team in the NHL. (Getty Images)

Holy crap, the stuff that happens when you least expect it.

One minute you're busy prepping a franchise’s headstone and the next they’re prancing around like they weren’t just run over by a bus (and a tank – and three elephants with heavy feet).

What’s up in the desert? The laughingstock Phoenix Coyotes are suddenly (gulp) among the elite of the NHL. In fact, at present, they have the league’s fourth-best point total (if this was Blackjack I’d stand right about now) and – barring a major collapse – are ready for a long playoff run.

Once your laughter/gagging subsides be sure to check out my market-fresh theories behind the team’s sudden rise to paw-er (admit it, that was kind of witty).

Fear of Hamilton – Jim Balsillie’s ownership coups are a lot like a mother threatening to smack you. You know it’s essentially an empty threat since the courts aren’t big on parental corporal punishment (a guy can reminisce though, can’t he?), but still a small part of you wonders what may be possible. If BlackBerry Jim did get his way and if his relocation promises/threats were true, you’d soon be leaving the comfy confines of warm, sunny Arizona for – let’s be honest – Hamilton. Packed houses are often overrated and there’s something to be said about playing with a sunburn.

Coaching –
I can give you 99 reasons why Dave Tippett is a better coach than, uh, what’s the name of the previous guy? You know him, had a record of 143-161-24; missed the playoffs every year with basically the same crew? Nice guy? Parts his hair to the side? I’ll get this in a minute...

Apathy Loves Company – The Parched Puppies (frankly I'm getting sick of “Desert Dogs”) are on quite a run which naturally translates to packed arenas, right? Well, at times. Phoenix has had marginally better crowds this year mainly dictated by who happens to be in town that night and the line-ups at the all-night driving range. In other words, nothing’s really changed. Eventually you get used to neglect. Just ask Jan Brady.

Loving the New Ownership –
Even though Ice Edge Holdings is in the process of buying the Coyotes, the team is technically still owned by the NHL. That means Mr. Bettman is the man in charge, which gives weight to two possible theories behind the Coyotes’ improved play. One, Gary Bettman is one hell of an owner (rumor has it he passes out candy at practices) or two, the team wants to see what would happen should Phoenix actually win the Stanley Cup. Doesn’t the commissioner of the league present the trophy to the owner of the franchise? But wait, isn’t the owner of the franchise the commissioner of the league? How is that possible? Would that create a time vortex? Would dogs mate with cats (Coyotes and Panthers? Eww..)? Stay tuned.

Give It Time –
Call it an anomaly. Phoenix occasionally takes a run at respectability, only this time they’ve gone further up the mountain (I know it’s the desert, but play along with the analogy) causing bored witty writers to come up with Hey, what’s up with Phoenix stories. But, when it’s all said and done they are still the Phoenix Coyotes. Few people care about them and realistically their track record is spotty at best. By the time they get to their hallowed playoff White Out stage (of course that’s still hypothetical at this point) it’s likely to be a lot more Out than White. In other words, the dogs might be making lots of noise now, but it is hot out there and that can take a lot out of you. Expect the barking to cease fairly soon.

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Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoon, brings you the humor column Loose Change every Tuesday. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Check out his website at charlieteljeur.com.

For the first time ever, you have a chance to buy original hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoons straight from the source (I finally wrangled the rights from my Taiwanese overlords). They are perfect as gift even if the recipient has the exact same name as you. Interested? Click here.

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