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HOLY JUMPIN!: STICKING WITH PLAN IS KEY

Tuesday, 11.25.2008 / 10:41 PM / Holy Jumpin! - a Blog by Darren Pang
By Darren Pang
Losing is never easy.

If you don't have a sour feeling in the pit of your stomach after a loss, you shouldn't be in the competitive business of pro sports.

The Coyotes made an organizational decision last year when they committed to youngsters Martin Hanzel and Peter Mueller to go along with second-year pros Dan Carcillo and Daniel Winnik. They took it a step further this season with rookies Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker, Kevin Porter and Viktor Tikhonov.

That's one heck of a jump.

They brought in Olli Jokinen and Kurt Sauer, to go along with David Hale, Todd Fedoruk and Brian McGrattan.

You know there are bumps in the road. This is the best league in the world, with time-proven players that are battle-proven during hard times. There are world-class skill players that are good enough to represent their countries in international competitions.

It can sometimes take young phenoms two to four years to be impact, go-to players.

On a great team like Detroit, it took Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg three years to be top-end, reliable players that could go against the other teams' best defensemen and defensive specialists at the forward position. There are enough of them in this league.

This is the course that was chosen and the main thing to always keep in mind is the positive side of preparation, teaching and patience.

During an off day in Columbus, Ohio, after a really tough loss in New York, where five players played their first game at world famous Madison Square Garden, Wayne Gretzky and his coaching staff put the players through a high tempo, technical special teams practice that had all the energy of a team on a five-game win streak instead of a team that has only been able to secure points in a shootout loss vs. Chicago and an overtime loss in Philly in the past six games.

It is all about vision. It is about the big picture, but at the same time it is also about veteran players that want and need to win.

The vision is there. The vets are all giving it their all. The Coyotes have great men in the room, guys that you can lean on in tough times. If there are older players that aren't in the same boat, rowing in the same direction, then they would have to go. You can't afford to have any bad guys because it makes for bad leadership and sends the wrong message.

I couldn't be more impressed with the majority of these veteran players.

The plan is there. This team can win. They have as much speed and skill as any group of young players on any team in the NHL.

Now, it's about sticking with it. Score some goals and learn how to win, instead of finding small ways to lose games.

There are only four points separating the eighth-place team in the Western Conference from the Coyotes. They are in the hunt.

They have to look forward going into every game and if they play the way they did in New York in the first 30 minutes, there are plenty of wins the rest of the way.

Panger
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