This is the new Phoenix Coyotes organization.
The days of letting quality players and personalities walk are long gone. I used to watch this team from a distance doing National TV and having to analyze every team in the NHL. It was always a matter of where top players would move, not when.
They battled Nik Khabibulin and after a year or more of brutal haggling and bitter negotiations, he was traded away.
He was the cornerstone of the franchise. He was ultimately the foundation. They didn’t replace him with another franchise goalie.
Keith Tkachuk walked a similar path as the mighty dollar was too much on a losing squad and the Coyotes received little in return. They received nothing you can build the franchise around.
This franchise now has new focus and calm leadership. They have an owner in Jerry Moyes that has a passion to be a winner and a desire for stability. They have a manager in Don Maloney that likes things done discreetly and for all the right hockey reasons. There is a CEO named Jeff Shumway that had to make some hard decisions last season in letting go of some real good people. He had to. The vision is different. They all had to be on the same page.
They made a decision at last years trade deadline to re-sign their Captain and hardest working player, Shane Doan
. They could have made the easy decision and said good luck. Go somewhere else and win and we will tell the fans we got some good picks in return and the future looks bright. At the time, paying Doan an average of $4.5 M per season for 5 years caught many non Coyote fans off guard. Was he worth that much? Is he a top 3 forward on a good team? They made a good, hard, tough decision. Look at him now. Is there a more powerful forward in the Western Conference? Is there a player that gives it like he does on every shift? Every single shift. What team WOULDN’T want Shane Doan
Now there is the goalie. They finally got a little hockey luck on their side when they got him off waivers. It is easy to play it out until the very end of the season and figure it out then. If they don’t make the play offs and he struggles a little down the stretch, maybe they get him for a little less. But that is “hoping” and sitting on the fence, which never works. But this new group is more pro-active. They told the fans they were building a winner and it may take some time. They were going to be patient with the kids, yet put accountability on the shoulders of the vet’s. They have been superb.
Not again. The mistakes in the past will stay there. This is a different Coyotes Organization. It is going to be a fun ride.
This is a blog I wrote for Hockeybuzz.com today. Enjoy.
This is a great day for the organization. They are clearly going in the right direction and this will take a huge load off the shoulders of the Russian born goalie. Just the other day I was talking to Bryz and he seemed a little worn down. He mentioned to me this was not a fun time, with negotiations going on and it was also hurting his play and his focus. I told him to just stop the puck, lead this team to the play offs and let his agent, Don Meehan work it out with with Coyotes GM Don Maloney.
The next day at practice, Grant Fuhr and Wayne Gretzky noticed how lethargic and sloppy Bryz was at practice and made a rare game day change of starting goalies. They informed Mikael Tellqvist that he would start vs Columbus and Bryz would get the night off.
Bryz started the next game against Chicago and made a key save on a penalty shot with :14 left in the game that was tied 1-1. They got a point in the shoot out loss and then on Monday he won 6-2 against the Buffalo Sabres.
I had heard from a former GM in the league that a negotiation like this would have an effect on the play of Bryz, as he knows him well, and I believe it did take away from his focus for a few games as he met with Meehan in Edmonton and Calgary on a previous road swing out West.
The Coyotes have a great young stable of prospects both in the NHL and waiting in the wings and getting Bryz signed was an essential move to solidify the foundation. They have a fine prospect in the AHL in Josh Tjordman and David LeNeveu has been playing great, while Tellqvist has proven to be a great team player and 2nd guy as the players love him and he has that quality about him to get along with all his goalie partners.
With players like Kyle Turris, Blake Wheeler, Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik and Brett McLean waiting in the wings, the future looks very, very bright.
You have to know that there were many teams waiting and seeing what the Coyotes and Bryz were going to do. There isn't exactly a lot of goalies out there to be signed and he would have received plenty of attention as a UFA. Bearing that in mind, he ends up signing a great deal for a goalie that has not proven long term that he can be a # 1 guy but you have to believe that this is exactly the type of security that a guy like Bryz, who spent 4 years in the AHL waiting for his turn in Anaheim, has needed to really excel.
He could have gone to Europe many times to make more money, but his motivation was to be a top NHL goalie.
He works his tail off in practice every day, and challenges his players to beat him on every shot. He is a big ( 6'3, 210 lbs) strong kid that can handle the day to day workload of a top guy.
He now has a deal in place that works for both parties. He is a number 1 goalie on a team coached by Wayne Gretzky. He is a coach that protects his goalies. He always has. It may have been a factor as Wayne was tremendous with Curtis Joseph and he was also represented by Don Meehan.
This is a great day for the Phoenix Coyotes.