August 18, 2010
(Ed. Note: Welcome to Puck Daddy's August series, "Mount Puckmore," which will feature fans, bloggers and various media personalities of all 30 teams choosing the four defining faces of their franchise.These four people are who you remember most when you think of these teams -- whether they be players, coaches or executives. We'll be running these daily for the rest of the month. Today, representing the Phoenix Coyotes, Jordan Ellel from Five for Howling.)
By Jordan Ellel
Relying on the caveat that Adrian Dater noted in his Colorado Avalanche post, this Monument is dedicated solely to players for the Phoenix Coyotes and not their former incarnation -- some team from Ca-na-da(?) that I've never heard of because I didn't know what hockey was until 1996.
I'm kidding of course, and great Jets such as Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Bobby Hull, Ulf Nilsson and Teemu Selanne(notes) are recognized here, but were not considered for inclusion in this Monument. (Notably, Hawerchuk, Steen and Hull all have had their numbers retired and placed in the Coyotes Den of Honor.)
With the long and storied history of the Coyotes (all 14 tremendous seasons and zero playoff series' wins!), we're certainly not competing with any Original 6 franchises for providing a history lesson. That being said, coming up with this Monument did allow for some healthy debate with fellow fans.
So without further ado...
The last man standing from the old Jets on the current franchise, Captain Coyote is the easiest decision.
Captain of the Coyotes since 2003, Doan is the Coyotes all time leader in goals (269), assists (392), points (661), penalty minutes (855), games played (973) and just about every other stat. Fans around the league got a taste of what Doan does for the team in the playoff series against the Red Wings, where, before his terrible shoulder injury, he was the most physical player on the ice and set the attitude for the entire team.
Additionally, two words: Doan Face.
In addition to his considerable service time with the Coyotes on the ice, he has been the exemplary ambassador for the team off the ice serving as the face of the franchise. His charitable works are extraordinary and his patience and grace with fans is something to cherish. And he does it selflessly -- even advocating for fans to attend games during his 1,000th game celebration earlier this season, or encouraging free agents to sign with Phoenix while accepting the King Clancy Memorial Trophy this year.
There's just not enough that you can say about Shane Doan and what he means to this organization or its fans. He's the embodiment of the Phoenix Coyotes and, therefore, a no-brainer for inclusion on Mount Puckmore.
The first player to have his number retired by the Coyotes for the work he did as a Coyote (despite also being a long-serving member of the Jets). Numminen served as the team captain after Keith Tkachuk(notes) left and was a steady defensive force in the Coyotes' early years. Second all-time in games played for the Coyotes with 551, Numminen is the all-time leader among defensemen in goals (55), assists (214) and points (269).
The Repo Man, as he was called, was never the fastest or flashiest player on the ice, but he simply got the job done. He never allowed the opposition to hold onto the puck before dispossessing them of it with his fancy stick work.
At the time of his retirement, Numminen had played the most games by a European born and trained player of all time (1,372 -- a mark that was broken by Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) last year). A warrior, through and through, Numminen missed almost the entire 2007-2008 season (while "playing" for Buffalo) following heart surgery to repair a faulty valve. He played the final game of the season and then returned the following year to play in 57 games at the age of 40.
Don Maloney, GM
Current general manager Don Maloney hasn't exactly had an easy go of things.
When he became GM before the 2007-2008 season, he inherited a team that was losing money at an alarmingly fast rate based largely on an ownership structure that believed having Wayne Gretzky involved in every part of the hockey operations would somehow, someway create success and (to top it off) hadn't made the playoffs in six years.
Add to that, the fact that the Coyotes had consistently missed the mark in the draft and with trades, and it certainly wasn't the glamorous job that he probably thought he might be in line to get (*coughRangerscough*).
But Maloney quickly showed that he had a knack for being the anti-Sather ... a guy that you should take with you to your local dollar store or garage sale. Among some of Maloney's impressive moves:
• Free agent signings: Adrian Aucoin, Vernon Fiddler(notes), Taylor Pyatt(notes), Kurt Sauer(notes), Robert Lang(notes) and Jason LaBarbera(notes). Although none of them are the Ilya Kovalchuk's(notes) of the world, each has gone on to be a solid contributor on the Coyotes at very modest prices. We hope to add Ray Whitney(notes) and Andrew Ebbett(notes) to this growing list...
• Trades: Just a few examples of the deadline deals Maloney has made ...
(1) Olli Jokinen(notes) and a third round draft pick to the Flames in exchange for Matthew Lombardi(notes), Brandon Prust(notes) and a first round pick -- a complete win for the Coyotes who, despite losing Lombardi to free agency this offseason, were able to use Calgary's first round pick to draft Brandon Gormley.
(2) Dan Carcillo to the Flyers for Scottie Upshall(notes) and a second round pick -- Upshall was never going to get the top-line minutes in Philly that he has gotten in Phoenix, and Carcillo has turned into a much more disciplined player, so it's likely a win for both teams ... but considering that Maloney also grabbed a pick with this deal, a great trade.
(3) Matt Jones and a fourth- and seventh-round pick to Toronto for Lee Stempniak(notes) -- Stempniak proceeded to light it up in the desert, scoring 18 points in 18 games following the deadline and I wouldn't be surprised to see him re-sign with the Coyotes soon.
(4) Peter Mueller(notes) and Kevin Porter(notes) to Colorado for Wojtek Wolski(notes) -- neither team really will be unhappy with this deal as the Coyotes got rid of an unhappy Mueller (who responded by lighting things up in Colorado before suffering a season-ending concussion) and got a key offensive cog in Wolski.
(5) Derek Morris(notes) to the Rangers for Petr Prucha(notes), Nigel Dawes(notes) and Dmitri Kalinin(notes) -- Prucha has been a solid defensive shutdown player for the Coyotes while showing flashes of offensive brilliance (for a very reasonable price) and Morris is back with the Coyotes after brief stints with the Rangers and Boston (Maloney was able to bring back Morris for last year's post-season run by trading Boston a fourth-round pick).
It's clear that the moves have worked as well as the Coyotes set franchise records in wins (50) and points (107) last season and Maloney won the first ever Executive of the Year award from the NHL.
And although sometimes I question the moves at first, I've learned to live by the motto: "In GMDM I Trust".
There are many teams that can claim JR as their own -- he had wonderful moments with Chicago, Philadelphia and even his final years in San Jose. And the great thing about JR is that because of who he was, most of those fans kept cheering for him long after he no longer wore their home team's jersey.
Quite possibly the greatest quote in the history of the NHL, Roenick spent six seasons endearing himself to the fans in the desert -- both with his play on the ice and his play at the bars where Roenick remains a fixture of the Scottsdale nightlife.
Although you can debate whether his play for the early 2000 Coyotes teams was more or less vital than Keith Tkachuk's to the team's success, there's no doubting who remains the fan favorite as to this day Roenick jerseys can be seen frequently at Jobing.com Arena. His stats speak for themselves: second all-time in assists (227) and points (379) and third all-time in games played (454) and goals (152).
And although his second tour of duty in Phoenix was not as successful (the most notorious moment being his leaving the arena in Vancouver after being a healthy scratch), in my mind, Roenick more than earned this honor way back in 1999 when he came back after Derian Hatcher(notes) broke his jaw prior to the playoffs and JR valiantly came back with a full face shield in an unfortunate Game 7 loss to the Blues.
Keith Tkachuk has as good an argument as anyone for inclusion on this list and coaches Dave Tippett and Jim Schoenfeld had fine season(s) with the Coyotes (Tippett may yet earn a place with a few more seasons like the last one).
To be honest, I thought about including Jerry Moyes and/or Wayne Gretzky as the parties most responsible for the disaster that led to the recent ownership uncertainty surrounding the team brought on by the years of awful on-ice performance (after seeing the beating that Sam Fels took for including Dollar Bill Wirtz, I'm glad I skipped that decision). But instead, I decided to remain positive and recognize this era simply by giving honor to the one person that has steadfastly believed in the Coyotes (much to the chagrin of Canadian fans everywhere), our illustrious tour guide for this expedition: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
He's been fighting for the preservation of this Monument since that other bald guy tried to tear it down. Many visitors seem not to like the guy, but we've got no problems with him. In the words of one Russian visitor, "He's good guy, why you haf be mad?"
So, be sure not to litter during your tour of the fine Coyotes Mount Puckmore Monument, lest you find yourself relegated to a punishment of uncertain duration to be handed out by Colin Campbell's Wheel of Justice.