We reveled, perhaps a bit too much in hindsight, in what appeared to be an overmatched Rick Tocchet behind the Coyotes bench last year. He appeared to be an idiot in Tampa when he had to take over for an admittedly giant mess caused by Barry Melrose. And despite what looked like a fair collection of young talent in the desert, the Coyotes finished up the track once again. As the Yotes have been something of a nuisance to everyone–with their constant stability issues and even bigger issues remaining relevant–it was a small relief to at least have something to laugh at. At least they were noticeable in any way.
So much for that. Tocchet has negotiated a host of injuries–only Keller, OEL, and Hjalmarsson have been marked “present” for every game among the prominent players–and still a raft of youth to have the Coyotes on the brink of their first playoff berth in seven years. Sure, some of that is Darcy Kuemper’s renaissance, but the team was able to stick together through their other goalies’ struggles. Even with Stepan and Schmaltz out now, the Yotes sit one point out of the playoff picture.
The Coyotes don’t do anything particularly well, but moving toward the middle of the pack in various categories is a step up for them. Last year they were mostly getting their brains turned into mush. So it might be that Tocchet actually does know what he’s doing, or he learned. And our laughter, as always, goes away…
We still think they’ll need a real coach to take the next step. Then again, so might the Hawks.
Game #69 Preview Suite