The hardest question in sports is “what if?” The question "what if" is a question which sports journalists love to throw into their articles talking about for what would have been. For the Phoenix Coyotes, the question “what if” became a reality for the 2009-2010 NHL season.
The Coyotes endured the longest off-season heading into the 2009-2010 season. In May 2009, when teams were competing for the Stanley Cup, the Coyotes were facing a competition that affects millions of families in the United States, bankruptcy.
On May 5, 2009 billionaire Jim Balsille made an offer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes after former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes filed for bankruptcy.
Balsille announced plans for the Coyotes to move back to Canada if he acquired the franchise. With the threat of uncertainty in the air, season ticket owners put their tickets on hold as they waited for a court ruling.
The court ruling went against Balsille, as his third run of purchasing an NHL franchise failed.
However, the Coyotes were still left without an owner. Who in their right mind would purchase a team which has lost over $200 million since their arrival to Phoenix? The Coyotes are still looking for an owner as the NHL is currently operating the team.
Sports journalists immediately wrote off the Phoenix Coyotes when former Head Coach Wayne Gretzky stepped down as Head Coach 10 days shy to the start of the regular season.
Little did hockey fans know that a new coach would be revealed who would lead the Coyotes into the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season.
Enter Dave Tippet, the former Dallas Stars Head Coach, who would along with General Manager Don Maloney who changed the word pretenders in the Coyotes' dictionary into contenders.
After years in the bottom of the NHL cellar the Coyotes escaped exile in October 2009 when they tied their franchise record for wins a month, as the NHL slowly started to take notice of players such as Ilya Bryzgalov, who was named second star in the month of October.
Records for the Coyotes were being shattered left and right. The Coyotes were dominant in the first half of the NHL season, winning 25 of their first 41 games, including setting a franchise record in the month of December by winning 10 games and outscoring their opponents 32-13.
The Coyotes were winning games without fancy television contracts. They rarely appeared on Versus and appeared once on NBC during Game 6 of the first round series against the Detroit Red Wings.
Instead, the Coyotes fan base stayed loyal as the team appeared on Fox Sports Arizona and for those who are fortunate enough to have NHL Center Ice were able to watch the season unfold for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes lost key names who helped established last years run including Matthew Lombardi and Zbynek Michalek who were too expensive to resign.
Both Lombardi and Michalek played on the Coyotes top-line and it is hard to replace players at their caliber. Lombardi signed with the Nashville Predators, as Michalek went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
However, the 2009-2010 has passed us. You can only talk about last year so much since the past is beyond us and it’s time to focus on the present. The Coyotes are almost a week away before the regular season starts in Prague, Czech Republic, against the Boston Bruins on Versus.
With a new season upon us, here at Bleacher Report we break down the Top 10 Phoenix Coyotes players who can help make this season better than last season.