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Don't blame fans for Coyotes woes

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The Hockey News
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Don't blame fans for Coyotes woes

Hockey News
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As a Coyote fan and a season-ticket holder since they moved to Phoenix, I want to make some points about perceptions of the fans in Phoenix.

The Coyotes' financial troubles are not the fault of Phoenicians in general and the fans specifically. The team's problems are of their own making. Their management and owners did a poor job before Wayne Gretzky arrived and they have performed equally poorly since.

The reality is that after picking Daniel Briere in the first round of the draft in 1996, they failed to draft a single really good player in any round of the draft again until 2004 when they picked Blake Wheeler, who shows real potential.

They have drafted well since then, but that had a lot to do with their position in the draft and also to a better scouting department. They lost Wheeler to the Bruins. The young players did not appear to develop this past year.

Years before this the team traded Briere away for a persistently underachieving Chris Gratton because Briere was thought to be too small.

Then they inexplicably acquired Mike Comrie, also small and far less talented than Briere, and one of the most frustrating players to watch play in the league.

The team actually drew well in a bad hockey arena before moving to the new arena in Glendale. The new arena is very poorly located relative to where many fans live and the bad traffic in the Phoenix area.

The team was competitive when Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick and Teppo Numminen were on the roster. They needed only a couple of players to get over the hump and get out of the first round of the playoffs, but frustratingly never found that player.

Gretzky's team did a very poor job of organizing a good front office staff. Too many friends were hired who were unproductive. The gambling scandal did not help, either.

We have to thank Gretzky for saving the team years ago, but we can't thank him and the organization for their job performance since. Too many older veterans were plugged into the lineup like Tony Amonte, Claude Lemieux and Brian Savage.

Any real hockey fan who watched the game knew they would not help before they arrived and hated watching them perform after they arrived.

Another problem, the organization never found a play-making center to play with Shane Doan, who more often than not has to score on his own.

The new owner should keep Don Maloney in the front office and the amateur scouting staff that is in place now, but seriously consider who is included in the rest of the organization.

The coaching has been spotty at best. The team has not been successful in years.

None of these problems were caused by the fans. As I indicated earlier, the team drew well before. They get big crowds when the Original Six teams are in town and for Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. They never built a large and loyal fan base because they performed so badly for so long.

Paul Palley, Phoenix

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Don't blame fans for Coyotes woes