Well, I've been inspired to write my first blog in 2013. Hopefully this will be an ongoing thing. My motivation is the end of the NHL lockout and the impending completion of the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Greg Jamison. First, let's look at the lockout. The NHL and NHLPA met for over 14 hours yesterday and reached an agreement on a new CBA at 3 a.m. AZ time Sunday. The season will either start on the 15th or 19th, more than likely home games for the Coyotes. Either way, hockey is back and I couldn't be happier.
Now ownership news. Now that the lockout is off the NHL's plate, the league can focus on closing the deal with Greg Jamison. Jamison said today that he expects to meet with the league later this week or early next week and begin the legalities to close the deal. It would be great if he could get the keys to the team before the puck drops on the season, but we'll see. The big point is Coyotes fans can finally put to bed constant ownership crap, from Deal or No Deal news, to Glendale City Council goofiness, to misguided pot shots from the mental midgets in Winnipeg and Quebec City and trust me, there's quite a few of them. This fan base has been tested more than any other fan base in Phoenix. They deserve to celebrate a happy ending more than most fans here. Oh, by the way, the name will be changed to the Arizona Coyotes with a new on-ice look. Probably next year, but we will see on that.
Now we get to the impending season. The Coyotes are structured very well for a short season. In my opinion, if a team wants to make the playoffs they must have solid defense and goaltending from the start. The Coyotes have that. Not only is the defense strong, but they have their best shot blocker coming back after a stint in Pittsburgh in Zybenak Michalek.
Here are my thoughts on the strengths of the Pacific Division and where the Coyotes play into all of this:
2. San Jose
Anaheim has always had a strong offense, but has had horrendous defense, which leaves Jonas Hiller exposed a lot. If they can get just average defense, they will be a better team. Until then, light the lamp. San Jose is similar, but with a better blue line now. Their biggest problem in my opinion is in net. LA is another team, strong and big up front, but lack the fire power of Anaheim and SJ. Phoenix, it is what it is and it has worked. They will need guys like David Moss and Lauri Korpikoski to step up the production.
3. San Jose
Like I stated, the Coyotes have a very strong blueline and goaltending. This will carry them far this shortened season. LA is good on the back end, but I'm still not sold on John Quick in net. The Sharks are better, but not as deep as the top two.
5. San Jose
Again, Mike Smith is one of the best in the league and the Coyotes will need a big effort this season. Quick will have to equal his play in LA and if Dallas gets any kind of improvement on its blue line, they could be good.
1. Phoenix (by a game over LA
3. San Jose
There it is. Now, let's get back on the ice and in the arenas and lets play some hockey.
Now, for the other sports in the valley. We know about the Cardinals. Coming off a 5-11 season, the team cleaned house for the most part. President Michael Bidwill has to hire a new GM and head coach and is in the process of interviews. We'll see what happens with the Redbirds when the draft comes and training camp begins. As for the Suns, well...it's a transition year. This one is tough because the longest history I have as a fan is with the Suns. The roots are deep with this team, so it hurts to see this season play out. The sports cliché is you have to be bad before you can be good. Well, the Suns are bad. We will have to see if this franchise can get back to playoff basketball fans are accustomed to.
That's about it for now. I do want to make this one suggestion. If you are looking for a place to spend your sports dollar, try the Coyotes. Sure, I understand the point it's hard to watch on TV for Joe Q sports fan. Go to Jobing.com Arena and give the team a try. They are the best team in town right now and look to make their fourth straight playoff appearance. Give them a try.
Happy New Year to everyone reading this. I hope 2013 is the best year ever.