Oct 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Members of Ice Arizona, the Phoenix Coyotes ownership group, pose prior to the game against the New York Rangers at Jobing.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Sunday, April 13th 2014. Arizona has just wrapped up its first season under its new ownership group (led by Anthony LeBlanc) with a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. A victory that means little to nothing as the Coyotes finish 9th in the West, one game shy of that allusive playoff berth. The feeling by some was this was a team past its prime, hanging on life support until the inevitable downfall. Either way, serious tuning and change was greatly needed, with GM Don Maloney stating as much in his end of season press conference.
Enter Anthony Leblanc, the new hot-shot owner being ridiculously praised for his financial support and dedication to his new franchise. For so long Arizona had been a cash strapped team without the financial ability bring in star free-agents due to financial debt and a cap ceiling enforced by the NHL. Now armed with a multi-million dollar owner, the Coyotes seemed primed to cash in on a premiere free agent class and strengthen their case to return to the playoffs.
Think again. In a world where the likes of Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, Paul Stastny, Mike Cammalleri, and Matt Niskanen (all proven elite players) were there for the taking, Arizona will enter the 2014-2015 season with none of the above. Instead role players, Sam Gagner, BJ Crombeen and Joe Vitale will make their way to the desert dogs this year, each on contracts that-when put together-add up to less than 10 million dollars. As a Coyotes fan you can’t help but feel extremely underwhelmed by these moves after praising an ownership that has vowed to spend money and do whatever it takes to win. Let me reiterate, the Arizona Coyotes are entering their most desperate season ever.