Ask yourself this question: if you were a fan of a team that has thrown in the towel, how much would you really pay attention to their wins and losses? You have downloaded the team app, receive score updates and game after game you always glance at how much they lose by?
The Arizona Coyotes have sadly turned into that team this year, but for good reason they are still a great group of guys to watch. Even so, the losses have climbed to staggering numbers. Since their fire sale trade (and rewarding Keith Yandle to a chance at a ring in New York), they have lost seven of nine, and even worse seventeen of their last nineteen. It is obvious that the fans are not happy, Shane Doan is rather frustrated with yet again another down season, and with the most loyal Coyote on the team, this may be the last guy you would want to make disappointed.
Teams like the Coyotes are obviously making way for next season, but historically how has this team fared when they finished extremely poor the previous year? Rebuilding is currently the team’s aim, and with so many young prospects still trying to find a way to rise to the NHL (i.e. Max Domi), Most recently, in 2009, finishing near the bottom of the Western Conference and brought to a head rumors of the team being taken over by the NHL. The Great One (Wayne Gretzky) resigned weeks before the next season, but there was a lot of positives from new head coach Dave Tippett and their draft pick Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Coyotes racked up 50 wins for the first time in franchise history, but a date with the Detroit Red Wings in the first round quickly put out the fire.
Playing in their final season in Winnipeg, the Jets’ 16 wins drew the lowest attendance of the year. With a team that could not make the playoffs in their last two years, adding sensation Jeremy Roenick put him in a mix with Keith Tkachuk and Rick Tocchet. It was a winning combination, more than doubling their win total and making the playoffs in their first year in Arizona. Anaheim though took them to seven games in the NHL playoffs and could not get over the hump.
Who could though forget the team’s second year? Winnipeg mustered up just nine wins in 1981, but during the draft, scoring Dale Hawerchuck made a big difference. The Jets more than tripled their win total, became one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, but St. Louis knocked them out in the playoffs in four games.
The most consistent story line between each horrible ending happened in the offseason, and it all became trends. Adding players is always frequent, but there was always a new Sherriff in town the next year. While Gretzky left on his own, Tom McVie, and Terry Simpson were shown the door. Seeing Dave Tippett let go will be hard to do, since he was the only coach to win a playoff series in their franchise history, but all signs point to this team making some desperate changes. The season will go on, but if history tells the story correctly, there is a great chance that a bright future awaits with so much new talent waiting to take flight.