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Holy Jumpin! - A Darren Pang Blog
 
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PANGER'S MID-SEASON BLOG

Thursday, 01.10.2008 / 6:48 PM / Holy Jumpin! - a Blog by Darren Pang
By Darren Pang
It is all about being on the same page.

It doesn’t matter if it is a Pee Wee hockey game or an NHL hockey game.

If you are not on the same page, pulling on the same rope, you will not succeed. Bottom line.

The Phoenix Coyotes believe in one another and that is quite apparent. They have fun in practice, on the plane, on the bus going to the rink, and in the games. They are lead by veterans, guys that have been through the NHL wars and battles. Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, Steven Reinprecht and Nick Boynton. The young players show up and work their tails off every day and the combination is infectious.

We are at the half way point of the season and it has been our pleasure on the TV side to watch this group learn how to win on a consistent basis. When Dave Strader joined us, I told him there would be some tough nights. There would be games that were a challenge for us and it would be important for us to stick with the plan and have patience in what would surely be a learning curve.

That will still happen down the stretch, I am sure of that. But it won’t be from a lack of effort, nor will it be from a lack of being on the same page.

Wayne Gretzky is molding a franchise. He is the leader that believes in the right things, when it comes to team sports. He plays guys and puts them in a position of strength. He is respectful when it comes to treating them like pros and what he expects from them, and in return, the players love playing for him. If they aren’t working or doing the little things the way he wants, then they sit. It is that simple. When you get another chance, you best be prepared to play.

The team plays a style that has left many teams off guard and out of sorts. They have played a very tenacious two man forecheck with a third man high in loose puck situations, a very controlled 1-2-2 system on controlled break outs, something they worked on from the first day in training camp. Gretzky and his right hand man, Ulf Samuelsson have not strayed from the program. In the previous 2 seasons, there was not as much continuity as far as systems and set lines. When the players go to the rink now, they know what to expect.

Make no mistake. This is a huge learning season. Expectations do get higher with every win and that’s not a bad thing. We still have to keep things in perspective as far as where this franchise is going, and trust me, it is going in the right direction because there is a plan and they are sticking to it.

So when you think of the Coyotes, you think of the great job from Gretzky and his excellent coaches, including Grant Fuhr and video coordinator Steve Peters. You think of a new GM in Don Maloney. Make sure you think of the behind the scenes work of Tom Kurvers, Keith Gretzky and their fine scouting staff. Along the way, former GM Mike Barnett added the likes of Zbynek Michalek and signed him to a 4 year deal that is one of the best bargains in hockey, while trading for Keith Ballard and Derek Morris, to name a few.

It has been a very fun 41 games heading into tonight’s game at Edmonton. The players and coaches are making it fun, hope our fans in Arizona are enjoying this as much as I am!

Click Here to read my partner Dave Strader's Blog!!

Darren Pang

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