EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. - The Phoenix Coyotes could play their last game of the season Sunday afternoon.
It could also be their last game as the Phoenix Coyotes.
While talks continue on a deal to have a group fronted by former San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison buy the team from the NHL, which bought the club out of bankruptcy three years ago, the deal still isn’t done.
Until the members of Jamison’s group put pen to cheque and close the deal, there is going to be justifiable healthy skepticism about the Coyotes’ future in Glendale, Ariz.
“With the uncertainty, I guess, with the team and where it’s going to be is maybe a concern,” admitted Phoenix veteran Ray Whitney after the Coyotes practised in preparation for Game 4 of the Western Conference final. “You know, we’ve heard some good things as of late, but as a group we’ve done a good job all year long at making sure we leave the outside business to the people who deal with that, and inside the locker room, we’ve been pretty good at just focusing on that.”
Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he could appreciate what the Phoenix coaching staff -- head coach Dave Tippett, associate coach Jim Playfair and assistants John Anderson and Sean Burke -- are going through. Sutter said he’d like to see the Coyotes stay put.
“You know what, I appreciate, because I understand their coaches, who they are, what they do, right? Jimmy Playfair and I have been together in lots of situations. I know some of the guys on their team ... It’s a good place to live, obviously. It’s a good hockey team. That’s kind of what everybody wants.
“Heck, I went to San Jose when they were a 60-some-point team. I went to Calgary when there were 8,000 or 9,000 people watching games. If you get a good team, generally you get a chance for people to watch. It would be nice to keep that team in the league. That’s the way everybody looks at it. You guys, too. You want to go to Phoenix. We all do.”
The Coyotes will be trying to make sure Sunday there will be a least one more game in Glendale.
“We understand what we’re up against,” Whitney said. “You can mope around and feel sorry for yourself if you want, it’s not going to do you any good. You can go back and say this team did this and it’s not too long ago Philly came back and beat Boston down 3-0, but you can’t look at stuff like that. You just focus on winning one game against a very good hockey team, and we’ll take it from there if we get that done tomorrow.”
“We know they are going to play their best game, so we need our best game, too,” Kings defenceman Drew Doughty said. “They are going to come out hard in those first five minutes and try and push us away, but we’ve got to make sure it’s our best game of the series.
“It’s tough not to think ahead, but at the same time it’s easy because all you’re thinking about is that next game. We know we still have a lot work to do.”