Phoenix Coyotes seeking ownership stability
The Coyotes enter the off-season with six unrestricted free agents on their tab — including captain Shane Doan. Not only could a handicapped budget mandated by the league dictate whether he and a few of his peers stay, but the sideshow that’s evolved without an owner is also a factor and could affect their decision to stay with the organization.
“I don’t want to go through another year and be a doormat in the league where you don’t have ownership and people to stand up for you,” veteran and unrestricted free agent (UFA) Ray Whitney said.
The Coyotes have attained success not expected of a team owned by the league and operating under severe limitations. Before they advanced to the conference finals, falling to the Los Angeles Kings in five games, they achieved back-to-back first-round playoff berths.
But the drawbacks of the arrangement are now clear: When the Coyotes needed an advocate for them — after suspensions, during a challenging and sometimes unfair schedule, and when officiating seemed slanted against them — they didn’t have an owner to stand up for them in front of the league’s decision makers.
“It’s tough for our management. It’s tough for our coaching staff, and eventually it runs down. It’s tough for players,” Whitney said. “I didn’t feel like we had the same competitive edge as everyone else. Everyone has a tough schedule at times, but I felt the length of tough scheduling we had was not great. Then I thought in the playoffs if you have an owner that’s not going to stand up for some of that reffing that you saw and stuff like that, it wears on you as a player.