Last night the Coyotes lost to the New York Rangers 4-1, their sixth straight loss.This confirmed to me one thing I had been thinking about, but was hoping was wrong. The Coyotes are not a playoff team.
General Manager Don Maloney, at the beginning of the year, said this team is a team that will be fighting for a playoff spot. Things certainly looked that way as Shane Doan, Olli Jokinen, and others had some good starts to the year. But the youth factor is very high on this team and that is ultimately what will bring this team down.
It would be wonderful to see the Coyotes youngsters start lighting the lamp and being a factor in the offense but they haven't picked up the load I am sure Don Maloney was looking for.
Should they be shouldered with all that responsibility?
These kids are barely older than me, yet are expected to be immediate offensive talents in the NHL, when in reality they aren't. I am not saying some of these guys won't turn into great players, but immediate greatness is not in the cards here.
There is one other problem I know will not be addressed, simply because of politics.
Yes, Wayne Gretzky has a stake in the Phoenix Coyotes organization as a managing partner and alternate governor. However, that should not give him untouchable status in terms of his job as a coach.
The Coyotes have a very young team which needs a coach who can teach players how to play at the NHL level. You would think that Wayne would be the best person for that, but being a coach is more than that. The Coyotes need a system that works and a coach who has been a coach. Someone who can keep the development of the young players going while inputting a system that will be hard to beat every night.
I understand Gretzky just signed a five-year extension as a coach, but this is what I think. Put Gretzky as an assistant coach for awhile...maybe he can figure out this abysmal power play of the Coyotes. When Ulf Samuelsson is your power play coach, it isn't going to work. Get a real coach in there for a couple of years.
If Wayne is itching to be head coach again, that's fine but for a team that is rebuilding a coach is important in getting a system of play down that will inspire younger players and help them learn the nuances of the NHL game. Afterwards Gretzky can take things back if he is so inclined.