Upheaval a thing of the past for Coyotes

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:25 PM ET

PHOENIX - Trades often bring a reshuffling of a lineup as the new arrivals can push players further down the depth chart.

In the case of Phoenix Coyotes defenceman Keith Yandle, the arrival of veteran defenceman Derek Morris could push him right out the door.

Literally.

The Coyotes’ Don Maloney was the most active general manager at Wednesday’s trade deadline making seven deals, including the one to bring in Morris, who played for the Coyotes for five seasons before being traded away last year at the deadline.

Yandle, the 23-year-old Boston native, was living in Morris’ house after his departure.

“He wants me to stay, but he’s got three kids and I don’t know if I can be up that early with his youngest,” said Yandle Thursday as the Coyotes readied themselves for a game against the Colorado Avalanche with playoff implications.

“I’ll find somewhere. There’s a lot of places around here. That’s the least of the worries. As long as you can get a good ‘D’ man back, a good friend, that’s the least of the worries.”

Morris, who could give the Coyotes’ 29th-ranked power play a boost from the point, said Yandle isn’t going anywhere for the short term as the Morris clan hasn’t decided exactly what they’re doing. The family might stay in the Boston area until school’s out.

The Coyotes, who have been living in the equivalent of a cardboard box in the NHL standings the last few years, hope they can find a home in the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. They looked like they were in good shape last year - fifth in the West at the all-star break - but exactly a year ago, a much younger roster than the one they have now pretty much imploded down the stretch.

Kids like Mikkel Boedeker, Kyle Turris and Viktor Tikhonov have not been on the big club’s roster after playing significant roles last year, replaced by vets like Robert Lang, Taylor Pyatt and Matthew Lombardi. Deals Wednesday also brought in veteran defenceman Mathieu Schneider, scorer Wojtek Wolski from the Avs and depth centre Petteri Nokelainen. This is a team that can now depend on reliable NHLers which should set up some internal competition and yield depth in the event of injuries.

“It was games from 45-60, a stretch where we dropped the ball. The intensity picked up and we were a bit surprised,” said Coyotes captain Shane Doan (the Coyotes were 4-11 in that stretch). “I was going through the team from last year’s (trade) deadline to this year’s and it’s drastically different. It’s a lot older and that experience will definitely help us.”

Dave Tippett has replaced Wayne Gretzky as coach and Tippett will push this group.

“The coaching staff has instilled a system where if you play it, you play well,” said Morris. “They’re so well-prepared. They’re a real hard team to play against night after night and that’s a real compliment.”

After a summer of upheaval and a battle for control of the franchise in bankruptcy court, the Coyotes have become a nice story. The NHL is running things while the process of selling the team to Ice/Edge Holdings grinds on (a little too quietly) leading to at least one NHL executive complaining about the money the Coyotes spent at the deadline.

According to Maloney and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the expenditures were within the budget approved by NHL owners at the start of the season (Maloney saved money by carrying only 21 or 22 players most of the season instead of the maximum 23).

Few thought it possible, but now they could be in a position to earn some money back with some playoff dates.


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