The Phoenix Coyotes' season is as unlikely a tale as one might imagine in pro sports. After a summer of legal scuffling in bankruptcy court, ownership squabbling and league intervention, chaos reigned in the desert. The situation reached its nadir as training camp approached and part-owner, coach and franchise-face
So it was out with Wayne and in with winning. Bringing Tippett in was precisely the right move. But it wasn't as if he was going to take this challenge on without some assurances. "I knew how I wanted this team to play," he says. "I had the backing of (GM)
What that has meant is 42 wins -- one shy of the franchise mark set in 1984-85 when the team resided in Winnipeg as the Jets. Entering the week, the Coyotes were riding a five-game winning streak -- winger
The Coyotes have surprised many people, mostly because the focus was off-ice and not on it -- for everyone but the players and coaches. As Tippett put it, "We've stayed away from the off-ice stuff and concentrated on the hockey. We've developed a pack mentality on the ice and we play with a lot of structure. We've emphasized commitment away from the puck and the guys have done a really good job in that regard. We might not score that much, but we try to find just enough each night to win."
The Coyotes have certainly done that, with a 26-5-5 record in one-goal games. Goaltender
Tippett's assessment after last weekend's textbook shutout of the Hurricanes in Raleigh perfectly summed up the coach's mindset and the team's identity: "Bryz was really good in cleaning up the few chances they did get."
The attention shifts back to the off-ice side of the story this week, with Commissioner
No one, though, saw the on-ice story coming. Tippett came to town, bringing mentor
All the better to focus on hockey, which this team has done so admirably this season.