GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Phoenix Coyotes went through a brutal stretch in the schedule that sent them roughly 125,000 miles across North America in six weeks.
They battled injuries, inconsistent stretches, some bad bounces. Oh, yeah, they still don’t have an owner yet, either.
But when the final horn of the regular season sounded, the Coyotes had closed out what might have been the most impressive of 33 years as an NHL franchise.
After so many near misses, a big move from Canada to the desert and an ongoing ownership saga, the Coyotes are division champions for the first time.
“It’s nice to have, it’s been a long time, to be associated with the organization and to give something to put a feather in your hat and you feel like this is something you can look forward to,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “A couple years ago we had 107 points and it didn’t work out for us and no one even really remembers that. But when you win the division it’s something you remember.”
Phoenix was supposed to finish middle of the pack, be in a fight just to get into the playoffs.
The Coyotes didn’t listen to the predictions, the criticisms. They stuck to their counterpunching game plan, fought through a brutal first half of the season and built confidence as it winded down.
“It feels good; Good for our team, our organization, fun to be a part of,” said Keith Yandle, Phoenix’s All-Star defenseman.